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The Friday Flashback: The Kennedy Expressway

By Chuck Sudo in Miscellaneous on Nov 5, 2010 7:00PM

Fifty years ago today a stretch of interstate over seventeen miles long opened, connecting the Loop with O'Hare Airport by cutting through the heart of the Northwest Side. The Kennedy Expressway has since become one of the busiest highways in Illinois, and one that draws the ire of motorists on an hourly basis.

The expressway was built paralleling Avondale Avenue and the Northwest rail corridor. It was first christened the Northwest Expressway for its direction of travel and re-named the John F. Kennedy Expressway on November 29, 1963, one week after JFK's assassination.

The Kennedy has had numerous landmarks over the years, from the long-gone Magikist sign to the Ohio Street underpass to the Metra ads around Jefferson Park advocating taking the train to the view of downtown visible almost from the moment you drive south past Cumberland Road that grows in immenseness until it dwarfs you driving through the Loop.

The most notable landmark of the Kennedy has to be the Blue Line stretch from Addison to Mannheim Road, running with traffic in the median. Planners debated whether or not to place the Blue line in the median, but it turned out to be a wise decision; the Blue Line is heavily traveled by commuters during the morning and evening rush.

Now if only we could negotiate it this fast.