A Bridge to the Past
From Route 4 to City Street
The venerable old bridge enters its golden years serving slow traffic on a city street, but it started life in the fast lane of the “hard road.” In 1924, Illinois Route 4 became the first paved road to connect Chicago with St. Louis. Only two years later, it was designated as part of the fabled Route 66.
The bridge abutments are originals from 1926. The rest of the bridge was rebuilt in 2005 in its original design.
Route 66 was a testing ground for highway engineering. Concrete bridges gained popularity when steel reinforcement was perfected in the early 1900s. Concrete required less maintenance than metal which needed painting and replacement of rusty parts.
An original Route 4 Route 4 marker is painted on one of the bridge abutments. This is the last of its kind in Illinois.
In 1915, a gravel road between Chicago and St. Louis first opened as the Pontiac Trail, named for the famous chief who lived and died near its southern terminus. A name plate was placed on guideposts at one-mile intervals.
In 1918, the Pontiac Trail was resurfaced with pavement and renamed “Route 4.” In 1926, it was designated as U.S. Route 66, making Illinois the first state in the country to have its segment entirely paved.
In 1927, the Ideal Garage, Service Station, & Lunch Counter opened next to the bridge (where the VFW stands today). Next door, the Ideal Cabin Court served weary travelers.