Irving Park Road and O’Hare Airport

In 1961, when I was just finishing grade-school, one of my friends moved out to Bensenville from our Portage Park neighborhood.  My mom was friends with his mom, so one day we drove out to visit them.

Traveling west on Irving Park Road near O’Hare Airport, just before we passed under a railroad viaduct, I spied another, smaller viaduct off to the right.  It was alone and isolated.  I wondered why it was there.

1976—Westbound Irving Park Road through O’Hare

Mom guessed that a plane had crashed into the railroad embankment and rendered it unstable for train traffic.  That meant rerouting the train track over a newer embankment, and a newer viaduct over Irving Park.  Years later, I discovered that the real explanation was much more prosaic.

Irving Park cuts across the southern portion of O’Hare.  In the airport’s early days, this was no problem.  But with more planes needing bigger and better runways in the late ’50s, Irving Park’s straight path through the airport property was diverted.  That old viaduct was a relic of Irving Park’s former routing.  In 1976 I snapped a picture of it.

A closer look at the abandoned viaduct

Today both Irving Park and the railroad line have again been relocated, to the southern-most perimeter of the O’Hare property.  I assume that both viaducts from the 1976 photo have been torn down by now.


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