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Cicero

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Site of Henry's Drive In

Cicero is a town on Route 66 with a Route 66 icon Henry’s Drive-In.
But don't miss its classic motels: the Cindy Lyn Motel, the Karavan Motel and the Shamrock Motel.
It is also Original site of the Muffler Man Holding Hot Dog and has some historic and cultural landmarks such as the St. Mary of Czestochowa Church and the Hawthorne Works Tower.

Cicero Illinois

1926-39 US 66 & 1940 -77 ALT US 66

< West     Gardner ¦ Braceville ¦ Godley ¦ Braidwood ¦ Wilmington ¦ Elwood ¦ Joliet ¦ Romeoville     East >

The Main Alignment of Route 66 in Cicero

< Head West
McCook ¦ Lyons ¦ Berwyn

Head East >
Chicago   "Road Begins"

 

Cicero IL

Facts, Information and trivia

Elevation: Elevation 607 ft (185 m). Population 83,895 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Cicero is the only incorporated town in Cook County, Illinois. See this Map of Cicero.

History of Cicero

This region was peopled some 11,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. During recent historic times, the French explorers (in the mid 1600s) encountered Native American Potawatome people. The French ceded Illinois to Britain in the 1750s, and in 1783 it became part of the U.S.

A treaty with the Natives led to the establishment of Fort Dearborn on the Chicago River in 1803. It was burned down during the 1812 War with England and rebuilt four years later.

Illinois became a state of the USA in 1818 and Cook County was created in 1835. Named for Daniel Pope Cook (1794 - 1827) newspaper publisher and lawyer, he was the first Attorney General of Illinois, and also a congressman.

Cook County is the second-most populous county in America after Los Angeles County,

In 1849 Cook County created the 36 sq.mi. township where Cicero is located, and in 1857 the "Town of Cicero" was organized to govern it. It incorporated with a state charter in 1867.

The name "Cicero"

The town was named after "Cicero" in New York, which in turn was named for Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC- 43 BC), a Roman politician, lawyer and orator.

He was always in favor of the republican government and after Julius Caesar's death he won the enemity of Mark Anthony as he opposed the new regime. He was declared an enemy of the state and murdered by Mark Anthony's soldiers.

The city of Chicago annexed a large portion of Cicero in 1899 and then, in 1901 Berwyn and Oak Park separated, now only 6 sq. mi. remain as Cicero.

The Burlington, Illinois Central and Belt Line served the town an attracted many industries to it.

Some Cicero Trivia

The pilot episode "Uno" of the TV series "Better Call Saul" mentions Cicero as the hometown of Saul Goodman (Jimmy McGill).

Velma Kelley (played by Catherine Zeta‑Jones in the 2002 movie Chicago) is accused of murdering her husband and her sister in a hotel in Cicero.

Route 66 was aligned along Ogden Ave. in 1926 and remained there until 1977 when it lost its certification.

Cicero: Hotels and Motels nearby

Accommodation near Cicero

> > Book your hotel in SW Suburbs of Chicago

Find More Accommodation near Cicero along Route 66

More hotels & motels:

Hotels east of Cicero

More hotels, heading West

On Alt US 66

Along Main US 66

Accommodation Search box:

Booking.com

Further West...

Book your hotel on Route 66
Book your Hotels on Route 66

>> See the RV campground to the south, in Joliet

Tip: It is not easy to find RV parking areas in Chicago it is not a very RV friendly city. Choose the outskirts.

The Weather

weather in Cicero, Il

Where is Cicero?

map of Cicero Illinois showing where it is on Route 66
Map showing the location of Cicero IL on Route 66

The climate in Cicero is a humid continental one with all four seasons distinctly represented; summers are hot and humid, spring is wet and cool, autumn is mild and pleasant while winters are quite cold.

Temperatures: The average winter (January) high is 31°F (-0.3°C); and the average low is 17°F (-8.6°C). The summer average high (July) is 84°F (29°C) and the average low is 64°F (17.7°C).

Rainfall ranges from 3 to 4.3 (78 and 110 mm) inch monthly from April to November, and falls to a drier 1.7 in. (28 mm) the rest of the year. On average, Cicero gets 36.82 inches of rain each year (936 mm).

Snowfall: on average, 28 inches (71 cm) of snow falls each year. The first snow falls in Nov. and the last (less than 1⁄4 inch or 8 mm) falls in April. There is usually no snow between May and September.

Tornado risk

Cook County may suffer some 4 tornados each year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk on US 66.

How to get to Cicero?

You can get to Cicero driving along Historic Route 66 or I-55, from the freeway exit at Exit 283 There are other freeways in the area (I-355, I-290, I-57, I-90, I-94 and I-88) US 34, US 20 and US 45 also bring you to Cicero.

Map of Route 66 through Cicero, Illinois

Display Cicero Route 66 Map


  Click Map will appear below
 

Color key for Cicero:

Pale Blue: marks the 1926-77 alignment of Route 66 in Cicero. It is also the 1940 - 1977 ALT US 66 from Romeoville to Gardner further west.
Red line or gaps in alignment, is I-55, where it overlaps the old alignment after 1950s.
Blue: a 1926 - 60s alignment in Willowbrook.
Orange: is the 1926 to 1928 Route 66 through neighboring Lyons.
Green Line: (to the west) is US 66 from 1940 to 1958 through Plainfield. After that date and until 1977 it became part of I-55.
Black are the sections that are missing.

Check each individual city for its specific color key.

Google Maps. Terms. Nicolas Mollet, CC BY SA 3.0 License

Route 66 in Illinois: Historic U.S. 66 in Cicero

Route 66 logo

Route 66 acro ss Illinois

Route 66 is a Historic highway and has also been designated as a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road in the state of Illinois.

Read this detailed description of Route 66 in Illinois.

Below you will find More information on Route 66 in Cicero.

Cicero's Route 66 Landmarks and Attractions

What to see in Cicero

US 66 in Cicero: historic context

The "Guide to Illinois" published by the WPA in 1939 mentions Cicero as part of its Route 66 tour ("Tour 17"). The WPA says: "Cicero... largest of Chicago's suburbs... it's Western Electric plant alone employs, at peak periods, more than the suburb's total working population".

It gave a brief history of how these "swampy lowlands" became a town, how it was drained and grew.

We also learn that "among those attracted to Cicero in the booming twenties was Al Capone, 'Public Enemy Number One,' who established headquarters in a hotel near the Western Electric Company plant" to organize his gambling houses and honkytonks along the streets that ran along the sides of the plant located on Cermak Rd. and Cicero Ave. opened in 1902 employing 40,000 workers to manufacture phones, radios and other electrical appliances.

Driving Route 66 in Cicero

The drive through Cicero along Route 66 is very short. Drive along Ogden Avenue, between Chicago in the east and Berwyn in the west:

Ogden Avenue

Ogden Ave. Chicago, Cook County

The throughfare was named for Chicago's first mayor: William Butler Ogden, this avenue runs for 37.5 miles (60.4 km) from Chicago (Chestnut St. near Milwaukee and Chicago Avenues) all the way to Naperville, IL

When Chicago was a fort on Lake Michigan (Fort Dearborn) in the early 1800s, the trappers used a muddy known as "Ottawa Trail" that linked the fort with what nowadays is Lisle.

The trail was improved and a stagecoach service was established, stopping at what now is Hinsdale in the 1830s, but the cart traffic ruined the dirt road, forming ruts. The trail was a muddy bog during the rainy season. Then some entrepreneurs built a toll road, the "Plank Road", which made traffic flow easily across the quagmire.

Plank Road

Construction began in 1848 and it was known as "The Southwestern Plank Road", it was the first of many that would radiate from Chicago. This one followed the trail to Lyons and in 1851 it was extended through Lisle to Naperville.

The road was built with wooden planks with log stringers on their outer edges. The boards were 3 in. thick and 8 feet wide -rather narrow.

Toll fees were charged ranging from 3¢ for one hog or sheep, 12¢ for a horse and rider to 37¢ for a cart drawn by four hourses.

When the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad began operating in 1863, the traffic along the plank road declined.

It was re-named in 1877 as Ogden Avenue., planks gone it was a gravel surfaced road. But by the early 1900s the first cars appeared and by 1914 it had been paved becoming a main throughfare.

Route 66 and US 34 were aligned along it in 1926 and in the 1930s it was widened to four lanes.

Tour Cicero

Start your tour on the northern side of Cicero, where it meets Chicago and head west along Route 66 (Ogden Ave.). After passing under the railroad tracks you will take a left to head south along S Cicero Ave. to begin a short 5.5 mile round trip into Cicero to see some intersting landmarks that are not located on Route 66; this is the map with directions, these are the main attractions:

St. Mary of Czestochowa

3010 48th Ct, Cicero

The church was built in Neo-Gothic style, like a genuine Polish Cathedral It includes the "Christ the King" sculpture. It is famous because Mafalda, sister of Al Capone, the gangster, god married here.

Turn around and head north to visit the remains of the gigantic Hawthorne Works:

Hawthorne Works Tower

4629 W Cermak Rd, Cicero (Location map).

This Renaissance Revival style water tower is all that remains of the vast manufacturing plant that once stood here. Hawthorn Works was demolished in 1994.

Now it is located behind the Hawthorne Shopping Center, next to the railroad.

The complex was named after Hawthorne, a small town that was later incorporated into Cicero. It opened in 1905 and employed 45,000 workers. Its output were telephones, electrical equipment and consumer products.

It was owned by Western Electric and closed after the breakup of the Bell System (AT&T was its main customer).

Below is a "Then and Now" sequence of this lonely tower:

Hawthorne Works tower vintage view in Cicero US66

Hawthorne Works tower vintage view, Cicero, Il. Donald McLean

Hawthorne Works tower nowadays in Cicero US66

Hawthorne Works tower nowadays, Cicero, Il. Click for street view

Continue north along South Cicero to visit Two 60s motels:

Karavan Motel in Cicero US66

Karavan Motel, Cicero, Il. Click for street view

Karavan Motel

1620 South Cicero Avenue, Cicero

The hotel dates back to the 1950s, and its paper match boxes promoted it as "A Mid-America Motel" an "A Home Away from Home", "Luxurious Motel Living" offering "suites for Families or Newly-Weds". Its slanting roof gives it a 1950's look.

Continue north a few blocks to reach the Shamrock Motel:

Shamrock Motel

1212 S Cicero Ave, Cicero

On the lefft side of the road, the motel, from the 1950s is still open. The postcard from the 1960s (stamped 1966) tells us that it had "Free Television - 24 hour switchboard service" (for the phones), that it had "Continental Breakfast" just "Ten minutes to Chicago's famed 'Loop'."

A "Then and Now" sequence of images:

Shamrock Motel 1966 postcard in Cicero, Illinois

Shamrock Motel 1966 postcard in Cicero Route 66
Shamrock Motel 1966 postcard in Cicero, Illinois. amazon.com. Click to enlarge image

Still the same facade combining steel grates, angled limestone and bricks. The massive neon sign and the stone column next to it have gone:

Shamrock Motel nowadays in Cicero, Illinois

Shamrock Motel nowadays in Cicero Route 66
Shamrock Motel nowadays in Cicero, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Now turn around and retrace your steps to Route 66 and S. Cicero Ave. Turn right, along Ogden, and ahead, to your left is the first local landmark, a classic motel:

Cindy Lyn Motel

5029 Ogden Ave, Cicero

The Cindy Lyn Motel is still open and catering to Route 66 guests. It has a distinctive neon sigh that is incorporated into the canopy roof over the motel's office. It is a Googie style building, a style that during the late 1950s and 1960s celebrated the atomic and space ages with structures shaped like planets, stars, amoebae with sweeping shapes, boomerangs and overhangs lit with brigh neon signs.

Cindy's dates back to the early 1960s.

Cindy Lyn Motel in Cicero, Illinois

Cindy Lyn Motel  in Cicero Route 66
Cindy Lyn Motel in Cicero, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Continue west and after going under the next railroad overpass, look out to your left to see a Classic Sight:

Henry’s Drive-In

Americana & Kitsch and Neon Sign

6031 West Ogden Ave. Cicero

This is the place to stop at for a Chicago-style hot dog. A Route 66 Classic.

It's neon sign portrays a hotdog topped with mustard and french fries with a wavy green arrow stating "Henry's - "It's A Meal In Itself" and is a Route 66 icon.

Bill Henry's business started in 1946 in a trailer. Then he built his diner in 1950 and it has been catering to hungry travelers since then:

Henry’s Drive-In in Cicero, Illinois

Henry’s Drive-In in Cicero Route 66
Henry’s Drive-In in Cicero, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Keep going westwards and just 280 yards ahead, to your right is the site where the "Atlanta Muffler Man" that holds a hot dog used to be:

Original site of the Muffler Man Holding Hot Dog

6150 W Ogden Ave., Cicero

The 19 foot tall Muffler Man Holding Hot Dog in Atlanta Illinois. Also known as Paul Bunyon (yes, Bunyon with an "o" and not Bunyan with a "u"), now located on Route 66 in Atlanta, Illinois, was originally from Cicero.

This same Hot Dog Giant in Cicero Illinois in Atlanta US66

The Hot Dog Giant in Cicero Illinois, Atlanta, Il. by Mykl Roventine

Atlanta's Muffler Man was originally installed at the Bunyon's hotdog stand in Cicero, Illinois (see image), on Ogden Avenue.

Hamlet Stephens owned the stand and he purchased the gigantic fiberglass statue of "Paul Bunyan" to promote his business in 1966 and it stood over his shop for 38 years.

He deliberately spelled its name "Bunyon" (with an "o" instad of an "a") to avoid copyright issues. This "Paul Bunyon" held a gigantic hotdog in its hands.

In 2002 the stand closed and in 2003 the Bunyon Giant was moved to Atlanta. Stephens died in 2012 but his work lives on. The original building is now a "Tio Loco" Mexican food outlet as you can see below in the "Then and Now" sequence:

Muffler Man

Muffler Men are gigantic (18 to 25 feet tall -5.5 to 7.5 m) statues moulded in fiberglass and polyester resin used in the U.S. as eyecatcher advertising along roads and streets.

The first Muffler Man was a "Paul Bunyan" figure created for the Paul Bunyan Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff circa 1960; later it became the Lumberjack Café and now is Granny's Closet and it still stands nearby (See a street view of the Lumberjack today).

The mold was used to make many more Paul Bunyans which were placed in front of gas stations and garages. Some of them holding auto tires and mufflers instead of axes, and that gave them the name of "Muffler Men".

There are several on Route 66, for instance the Chicken Boy in Los Angeles (a Paul Bunyan with a Chicken's head!), and the Lauterbatch Muffler Man in Springfield, Illinois, or the Gemini Giant in Willmington, Illinois.

Original site of the Hot Dog Muffler man nowadays in Cicero US66

Original site of the Hot Dog Muffler man nowadays, Cicero, Il. Click for street view

Vintage view of the Hot Dog Muffler man in Cicero US66

Vintage view of the Hot Dog Muffler man in Cicero, Il. From the wayside exhibit in Atlanta Illinois

This marks the end of your drive through Cicero you can continue south (west) along Route 66 into neighboring Berwyn or east into Chicago.

Historic Route 66 in Cicero, Illinois

Route 66

Illinois State Highway 4 was aligned along Ogden Avenue through Cicero in 1918. When US 66 was created in 1926 it incorporated the roadbed of IL-4. It is shown with the Pale Blue line in the map above.

Route 66 remained on Ogden Ave. until its decertification in 1977. Below is a 1934 map of the highway in the area around Cicero:

1934 road map of Route 66 showing Cicero

1934 map of Route 66 in Chicagoland
1934 map of Route 66 in Chicagoland, Illinois. Imgur.com

Route 66 into Chicago

The 1928 Illinois State Roadmap shows no urbanization along US-66 heading north into Chicago east of Joliet (which overlapped State Highway 4 and US "T"45) all the way into Cicero, the first town on the alignment. To the north lay Hinsdale and Lagrange, but the first town was Lyons, followed by Berwyn, Cicero and Chicago.

By 1945 (according to the Illinois state's official Highway map), things had changed, not oly had US 66 moved to a new alignment through Plainfield, now "Romeo" (yes, not "Romeoville") appeared on ALT 66 north of Lockport on the former 1926-1939 US 66 through Joliet. The urban sprawl reached Lyons, and to the west of it, there were no more towns until Plainfield.

The 1954 map shows the same picture but now US 66 from Cicero to IL-53 and then south as ALT 66 through Joliet and all the way to Wilmington was a "Four Lane Pavement" the main US 66 west of this point, through Plainfield and Braidwood was merely a "Two Lane Pavement".

There are changes in the 1959 state highway map: US-66 south (west) of its junction with ALT US 66 has become an "Expressway" with "highway separation" (overpasses and limited access). This freeway bypassed Plainfield and the former 1940 to 1958 US-66 alignment became state hwys. 126 and 59.

During the 1960's, the suburbs expanded and the 1969 state highway map (see image below) now shows I-55 and US 66 running together eastwards all the way to the exchange with I-294. Splitting here: with I-55 taking a more southern course and US-66 a northern one.

Cicero is shown on the map in the upper right-central part of the following map, under the I-90 Shield:

1969 Illinois State Roadmap into Chicago

1969 Illinois State Roadmap in Cicero Route 66
1969 Illinois State Roadmap, Cicero, Illinois. Illinois State Highway Maps

Drive from Cicero to Berwyn along Route 66

It is a 2.3 mile drive along Route 66 to cross Cicero from Chicago to Berwyn: Map with directions.

> > See the previous segment (First of Route 66) Chicago to Cicero (east)

> > See the next segment Berwyn to Lyons (west)

Sources

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.