The Joliet area is steeped in history, rich in culture and heritage and more than anything, an area that has been showing people how to get their kicks for many years!
The original purpose of Route 66 was to link towns with paved roads throughout main streets. This had very little impact on the Joliet area in the beginning. But as time moved on, so did Route 66. On November 11, 1926, Route 66 became part of local culture and the route chosen through Joliet was Chicago Street.
As traffic became congested within the city’s downtown, a one of the mother road’s many changes occurred. Chicago Street and Route 66 became a one-way south bound road, and Ottawa Street became Route 66 northern route.
In the 1960s, the old Will County Courthouse was torn down and with the construction of the new courthouse and parking lot on the east side of the building, Chicago Street no longer accommodated through traffic. Route 66 was again rerouted in Joliet. The mother road moved to Scott Street, and became a one-way north route, as Ottawa Street continued to act as Route 66 to the south.
At the same time, other major changes to the road also took place. Traffic in downtown Joliet became congested and Route 66 was moved outside of Joliet and diverted around it to pass through Plainfield. In an effort to avoid confusion, the new route through Joliet was named Route 66A and the bypass alignment was then known as regular Route 66. The road traveled down what are now the north side frontage roads of I-55 to Route 126 to Route 59.
- In 1926, the Rialto Square Theatre opened on May 24. Route 66 began on November 11.
- In 1926, the intersection of Route 66 where it was crossed by the Lincoln Highway was considered “The Crossroads of America”. Chicago Street, Ottawa Street and Scott Street can now all claim this title.
- In 1913, the Lincoln Highway passed through Joliet.
- In 1928, the Boy Scouts of America installed a concrete directional post at every mile and at every turn to mark the Lincoln Hwy. They did this all across America on the same day, July 8th. (An original post is on display at the Route 66 Visitors Center on Ottawa Street at Cass Street.)
- In 1940 the very first Dairy Queen opened its doors on Route 66 in Joliet at 501 N. Chicago Street.