BERWYN’S CONNECTION TO ROUTE 66
Berwyn’s Route 66 history is rich. The City’s development began in 1856 when the south side of town began to be acquired and divided into lots. At that time, the only mode of transportation between this community and the City of Chicago was by horse and buggy along Old Plank Road. After a short period, the planks became warped and worn.
In 1872, the Plank Road was renamed Ogden Avenue in honor of Chicago’s first mayor, William Butler Ogden. Portions of the road were bricked over by 1900 to accommodate the increasing traffic. In 1920, it was paved for smooth car travel. From 1926 to 1976, Ogden Avenue was designated as U.S. Route 66, connecting Chicagoans to Los Angeles.
Ogden Avenue was designed for automobiles when the car was king of American culture. A wide street lined with drive-through businesses and convenient parking served both travelers and residents. Drive-in restaurants, service stations, and auto dealerships sprang up on Ogden to cater to a mobile society. In its heyday, the strip boasted over a dozen car dealerships.
Today, Berwyn continues to celebrate its car culture with events like the Berwyn Rt66 Car Show held annually. Learn more about Berwyn’s Rt 66 car show.
Need a guide to get you started on exploring Berwyn? Check out Chicago Magazine’s Field Guide of Berwyn.