This web site describes the construction of the expressways in Cook County. Part one examines the planning and early efforts to build an expressway system in the county. Part two chronicles the period just before and after the passage of the federal Interstate Highway program. The description is the result of about three years of research including interviews with some of the people that designed and built the expressways. It attempts to capture the political side of the building effort along with the problems encountered by the engineers constructing a system in the middle of the country's second largest city. This story is dedicated to the engineers, draftsmen and administrators in the city, county, state, tollway and federal departments that spent a good part of their careers building more than 200 miles of expressway in Cook County.
One of those engineers was my father Andrew V.Plummer Jr. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in engineering in 1936. For the rest of his life he worked for the Cook County Highway Department except for 1944 and 45 when he served aboard US Navy surveying vessels in the Pacific Theater of Operations. In the late 1940's when the first expressways were being constructed he was head of the Drainage Division within the county's Department of Design. The position he held accounts for the picture on the home page that includes among others my father, brother and myself in the main drain of the Edens Superhighway. He went to become the administrative and planning engineer, assistant superintendent and in 1961 became Superintendent of the Cook County Highway Department. During those years he and Hugo Stark, who was head of design represented the county on the joint highway design committee and they were therefore directly involved in the decisions on the location and design of the Cook County Expressway system. He died in 1967 after only six years at the helm of the department.
Getting Your Story
This web site is intended as a means to tell another part of the story-what it was like living in the Chicago and Cook County suburbs between 1949 in 1972 when right-of-away was being purchased, buildings were being demolished, streets closed and the expressways constructed. To say it was disruptive is to state the obvious but many of the experiences were not traumatic but interesting, funny or maybe unique.. Anyone who lived through it probably has a story that would add to, enhance or humanize the description I have already written. For that reason this web site is designed to get your story and have it become part of the description of how the expressways were built. I am seeking stories or observations from residents that lived near or in the path of expressway, workers whose job was affected by the construction, someone who had their church, school or neighborhood affected by the construction, from men who drove the trucks or machinery to build the expressways or anyone who has some insight on any aspect of the construction of these expressways. If you have a picture that can illustrate the story I would be interested in that.
Read my story, Building the Cook County Expressway System and then let me hear your story.