Filling in the Illinois & Michigan Canal for the Southwest Expressway in 1962


Shown in this picture is the first construction contract on the Southwest Expressway where the expressway is to be built over the former Illinois and Michigan Canal.  The picture was taken in the vicinity of Oak Park Avenue looking eastward.  A major part of this contract required the removal of 100 years of accumulated silt in the bottom of the I & M Canal, seen in the middle of the picture.  When this 1962 picture was taken it was assumed that the expressway would open in about four years.  However a Democratic juggernaut of Governor Kerner, Mayor Daley and Cook County Board President Seymour Simon decided in the fall of 1963 to accelerate the construction of the expressway.  A combination of good weather, hard work, and good management resulted in the fifteen-mile section from the Dan Ryan Expressway to the Cook / DuPage County line opening in time for the 1964 national election, as planned.  (Cook County Highways magazine/February 1963/Carl Kowalski Collection)