Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Online Chicago Route 66 Driving Guide

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Douglas Park Flower Hall

Douglas Park Flower Hall on Route 66 (Ogden Avenue) in Chicago

Back in 2003-04, a series of five articles titled Driving Route 66 in Chicagoland was published in the Federation News, the quarterly publication of the National Historic Route 66 Federation The series began in Autumn 2003 and took readers from Ogden and Jackson in Chicago down Jackson Boulevard to Halsted Street.

In the Winter 2004 issue, we continued down Jackson through Chicago’s Loop to Lake Shore Drive. Spring 2004 saw us driving west on Adams Street from Michigan Avenue to Halsted Street in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood. In the Summer of 2004, we continued on Adams Street to Ogden Avenue. Finally, in Autumn 2004 we took a trip down Ogden Avenue through Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood and the suburbs Cicero and Berwyn.

All five of these Driving Tour articles are now available online on this website for viewing or printing. They are in Adobe .pdf format and they are scanned as originally published in the Federation News. They are a part of my ongoing archive of articles that have appeared in the Federation News since 2002.

Some changes have inevitably occurred along Route 66 since these articles were originally published, and I try to describe those changes on the archive page. However, the general info and directions in the articles remain as useful today as when originally published.

I of course would love it if everyone would like the more detailed information available in my book, Exploring Route 66 in Chicagoland, available on this website for purchase. Please buy the book! But for those of you that would like a free overview of the Route 66 driving corridor in Chicago, please use this free resource for yourselves.

Al’s #1 Beef opens on Route 66

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Als Beef Adams Street Chicago

Als #1 Italian Beef, 601 W. Adams (Westbound Route 66), Chicago

A famous Chicago eatery now has a new location on Adams Street (westbound Route 66). Al’s #1 Italian Beef invented the beef sandwich back in 1938 in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood. Their sandwich started as a way to stretch scarce beef during the Great Depression, slicing it thinly and serving it with au jus gravy and a choice of hot or sweet peppers on a large roll. Their business began as delivery only, catering to the needs of workers at nearby hospitals and businesses. For years, their only location remained in Little Italy at 1079 W. Taylor Street. The menu expanded over time to include Italian and Polish Sausage, Chicago-style hot dogs, and their famous hand-cut French fries. New ownership began franchising Al’s in 1999, and the restaurant at Adams and Jefferson Streets is one of their newest.

Als Italian Beef at night

Als #1 Italian Beef at night

The building now occupied by Al’s Italian Beef on Adams Street was previously the location of restaurants named Angelo’s and West Loop Cafe. It is located near Union Station and an easy walk from Sears Willis Tower. The new Adams location features a fanciful giant soft drink cup over the entrance. I believe the largest drink on the menu comes in a somewhat smaller cup

For more information on Al’s Italian Beef, check out their website at

Restored Tower Revealed!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

International Tailoring Company Building, circa 2003

International Tailoring Company Building, circa 2003 when the clock tower was still sheathed in ugly corrugated metal.

The International Tailoring Building at 847 W. Jackson Boulevard (eastbound Route 66) in Chicago has been on the National Register of Historic Places since June 2008. It is currently undergoing an interior renovation as Tailor Lofts, to be used as off-campus student apartments for the University of Illinois-Chicago. More importantly for Route 66 travelers, the beautiful exterior restoration has brought the building back to its original look. For years, a four-story clock tower was sheathed in ugly corrugated metal.

The gleaming enameled terra cotta now shines again, and the four clock faces show the current time in all directions just as they did when the building first opened in 1916.

The restored International Tailoring Building as it looks today

The restored International Tailoring Building as it looks today.

The second decade of the 20th century was a volatile time in the Chicago garment industry. Most large clothing companies farmed piecework out to sweatshops that employed immigrants for low pay in deplorable conditions. In the aftermath of several worker strikes, companies like International Tailoring decided to build large modern factories and to hire the workers directly, thus putting the sweatshops out of business. This building is a legacy of that period in Chicago history.

The building was built in 1916 from designs by the architectural firm of Mundie & Jensen, formerly Jenney, Mundie & Jensen. This firm was established originally by William LeBaron Jenney, the architect and engineer responsible for building the Home Insurance Building in 1885, the world’s first skyscraper to use steel beams in its structural skeleton. The firm also designed the downtown building used for a Sears Store at the southeast corner of Van Buren and State (currently Robert Morris University), and the Union League Club at 65 W. Jackson.

Ron Warnick posted about the International Tailoring Building on Route 66 News when the building was first placed on the National Register in 2008. There is also a Wikipedia entry concerning the building. It is great to see a grand old building on Route 66 lovingly restored and revived for a great new purpose.

June 12 Walking Tours Opened to All

Monday, June 1st, 2009

On Friday, June 12th, everyone and anyone is invited to take a walking tour in Chicago at a discount price. In keeping with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln, the walking tours will emphasize the historic places visited by Abraham Lincoln or his family along the Route 66 corridor in Chicago’s Loop. Two tours will be offered:

A highlight of the East Tour is a visit to the 'Begin Historic Route 66' sign

A highlight of the East Tour is a visit to the 'Begin Historic Route 66' sign

10 a.m. June 12th—East Loop Tour. We will start at LaSalle Street and Jackson Boulevard and walk east to Michigan Avenue, the original place where Route 66 began. We will walk north along Michigan to Adams Street (westbound Route 66 after 1953) and walk back to LaSalle Street. Lincoln locations along the way include the site of the hotel where Mary Todd Lincoln lived at the time of her alleged suicide attempt; where Robert Todd Lincoln worked when he was President of the Pullman Palace Railcar Company; where Tad Lincoln attended school; and where Lincoln’s funeral train arrived in Chicago in May 1865. Other highlights include the world’s tallest building with weight-bearing walls and the Tiffany mosaics of the Marquette Building. Of course, we will also discuss Route 66! The tour will last approximately two hours and covers about one leisurely mile (no stairs).

Union Station, on the West Loop Tour

Union Station, on the West Loop Tour

1 p.m. June 12th—West Loop Tour.
We will start at LaSalle and Adams Streets and walk south to Jackson, then west to Clinton Street. After a visit to Union Station, we will walk back east on Adams to LaSalle. Lincoln locations along the way that we will discuss will be the old Chicago & Alton depot, where Lincoln’s Pullman funeral car departed for Springfield in May 1865; the place where Lincoln was nominated as President; where Lincoln worked as a commissioner for the Illinois & Michigan Canal; and where Lincoln argued in Federal Court on behalf of the Rock Island Railroad in the Effie Afton case. Other highlights of the tour include Sears Tower, the movable bridges over the Chicago River, and a look at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant. And yes, we will talk about Route 66 all along the way. The tour will last approximately two hours and covers about one leisurely mile (some optional stair climbing).

Tours normally cost $15 per person, but participants will recieve a discount for these June 12th tours. Participants taking either one of the tours will receive a 33% discount–$10 per person. Anyone interested in taking both tours will receive a 50% discount—only $15 per person for both tours—like getting two tours for the price of one!

Reservations are required: Call Dave Clark at 312-432-1284, or email So come to Chicago on June 12th to Follow in Lincoln’s footsteps as we get our Kicks on Chicago’s Route 66!