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US Route 41 on Lake Shore Drive (Interstate 55 north to the Link Bridge)

This past month I drove a segment of US Route 41 on Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago between Interstate 55 north to the Link Bridge on the Chicago River.


Lake Shore Drive as the name implies is a north/south expressway in Chicago which runs along the western shore of Lake Michigan.  Lake Shore Drive carries US 41 through much of Chicago from a southern terminus at Ewing Avenue/I-90 (Chicago Skyway) through downtown north to Foster Avenue.  Lake Shore Drive is part of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour and is considered one of the most scenic downtown surface highways in the United States.

The origins of Lake Shore Drive date back to 1882 when a property owner north of downtown convinced the city to build a small segment of lake side roadway behind his property located at modern day 1350 N. Lake Shore Drive.  Between 57th Street north to the Chicago River the present route of Lake Shore Drive through downtown was designated as Leif Ericson Drive by 1927.  The route of what became Lake Shore Drive was completed when the Link Bridge over the Chicago River opened in 1937.  Upon the opening of the Link Bridge the route of US 41 was shifted east off Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago to the future Lake Shore Drive.  Lake Shore Drive was formally dedicated with it's present name in 1946.

Interestingly the shift of US 41 onto Lake Shore Drive extended the east terminus of US Route 66.  US 66 previously ended on Jackson Boulevard at US 41 on Michigan Avenue.  In 1937 US 66 was extended east on Jackson Drive to meet US 41 on the present route of Lake Shore Drive.  This 1956 Illinois Highway Map shows US 34/54/66 all multiplexing to a mutual terminus at US 41 on Lake Shore Drive.

1956 Illinois Highway Map

My approach to US 41 on Lake Shore Drive was from the north terminus of I-55 south of downtown Chicago.



I-55 merges onto US 41 north on Lake Shore Drive at McCormick Place.


US 41 shields on Lake Shore Drive are frequently co-signed with Lake Michigan Circle Tour shields.


US 41/Lake Shore Drive continues northward into downtown passing by Soldier Field at Waldron Drive.




North of Solider Field traffic heading towards I-290 is directed to turn on Columbus Drive.


Signage on northbound US 41/Lake Shore Drive directs traffic via Baldo Drive to reach I-90/I-94/I-290.







US 41/Lake Shore drive northbound meets the former east terminus of US 66 at Jackson Drive.



As US 41/Lake Shore Drive approaches the Chicago River signage directs I-290 traffic to Randolph Street.



US 41/Lake Shore Drive northbound crosses the Chicago River on the Link Bridge.  I turned off Lake Shore Drive onto Illinois Street to reach Navy Pier.





The Link Bridge is officially known as the Outer Drive Bridge.  The Link Bridge is a double deck bascule span which was the widest of it's kind in the world upon completion in 1937.  Interestingly the lower deck of the Link Bridge was intended to be a rail span.



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