Congress Expressway under construction west of Post Office in 1955


This is a view of the Congress Expressway (now the Eisenhower I-290) looking west from the roof of the old Main Chicago Post Office and was taken in 1955 by the State.  Clinton Street is in the foreground with the Chicago Surface Line streetcar tracks, a Chicago institution that would be shuttered a year later.  The construction depression in the center of the picture is the initial stages of the work on the Circle Interchange, which provides movement between the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressway’s (I-90/94).  Beyond that on the north side of the right-of-way is the relocated CTA Douglas Elevated line that would later be in the center of the expressway as far west as Sacramento Avenue.  The elevated expressway section in the foreground was built by the Cook County Highway Department under the Joint Design Committee agreement between State, County and City.  The modern history of the Congress expressway began in 1935 when Illinois Public Works Department Director, Robert Kingery offered $21 million in state funds to build the project.  However it was not until almost 20 years later, after World War II that work began in earnest to construct the so-called “granddaddy” of Chicago expressways.  This portion of the highway was opened in August of 1956 as part of the original Interstate system but was built with city and county bond funds reimbursed at 50 percent with federal primary dollars.  (CATS Collection of Transportation Photograph’s donated by Roger Janakus)