Sunday, October 12, 2014

Route 66 : Illinois Part 1

We've spent quite a bit of time over the years (especially the last two years) in Chicago where Route 66 starts so we will skip ahead a little other than to say...the route starts in downtown Chicago  (Lake Shore Drive) which is a great city with lots to do favorite is CIA and the Aquarium along with the Day of the Dead Museum...

Route 66 marker
As most of 66 has been replaced by interstate highways that parallel it...we tried when possible to travel on one of the many older versions of Route 66. In Illinois most of the route is paralleled by highway 55...

Markers show the way and most of Route 66 manifest itself as the business loop through the series of small towns that you can exit to off of the main highway...

Many of these towns were created and then decimated when Route 66 rerouted. All have iconic images, and give a favor of small town Americana in days gone by...There are diners, prisons, factories, schools, farms, stables, city halls, theaters...everything you find in towns and cities...and many restored but many neglected and abandon.

Along the way you will find similar to what we found...lots of buildings especially gas stations, murals, roadside attractions, and signs and historic markers:


Along the way...there are lots and lots of gas stations...given that were talking about a had to be fueled so a gas station was the one thing that HAD to exist. Given the size, shape and material, most gas stations can be pinpointed as to age and  type of service provided.

newer 1960's gas age canopy can be seen further down the road and often times was lined with neon lights. This same canopy design can be found on drive-in diners. They can be found both still used and abandon.

This is an older building that features several different gas tanks from earlier eras...

Gas stations could be easily identified as to type by the iconic sign.

Many of the older stations have been re-purposed as visitor centers or museums.
MURALS and Buildings
I've always been a fan of graffiti...murals are a more acceptable and developed form of graffiti...they serve as a cultural icon. the artwork is painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface like the street. One of the distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.

A mural that works as the town marker for route 66

Many of the murals reflect the theme of Route 66 like this one showing the route through Illinois
This mural shows the history of the building it's painted on

During the heyday of Rt. 66, travelers passed hundreds of signs, murals and other forms of advertisements hoping to grab attention. Among the more famous is fiberglass giants... created during the 60's by International Fiberglass of Venice, California.

The Gemini Giant is a landmark statue by the launching pad drive-in on U.S. Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois. The 30 foot tall statue is one of many giant "Muffler Man" advertising props found throughout the USA in the Sixties. The Gemini Giant is named after the Gemini space program and holds a silver "rocket ship" in his hands, sporting an astronaut's space helmet that looks like a welding mask. 

Originally designed to hold an axe, the first giant was 'Paul Bunyan'. The axe was changed out for the hot dog when done for the Paul Bunyan Cafe on Rt. 66 in Flagstaff, AZ in 1962. It's now stands in Atlanta, IL, on Rt. 66, Located in Springfield, IL is the 'Lauterbach Tire Man' at the entrance to Lauterbach Tire and Auto Service. True to his name, he holds a full size tire in his left hand. 
Located in Springfield, IL is the 'Lauterbach Tire Man' at the entrance to Lauterbach Tire and Auto Service. True to his name, he holds a full size tire in his left hand. 

A giant Elvis greets you at the Polk-a-Dot Drive-In...with Sky

Mural at gas station along Rt66 near speedway

A replica Blues Brothers car at a gas station near the Chicago land Speedway along U.S. 66.
Blues Brothers along the side of first Diary Queen in Joliet, IL
On drive-in roof in Joliet, IL...home to the first Diary Queen

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