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Illinois Route 171

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Title: Illinois Route 171  
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Illinois Route 171

Illinois Route 171 marker

Illinois Route 171
Route information
Maintained by IDOT
Length: 38.61 mi[1] (62.14 km)
Existed: 1946[2] – present
Major junctions
South end: US 6 in Joliet
  I-355 near Lockport
US 12 / US 20 / US 45 in Willow Springs
I-294 in Justice
I-55 in Summit
US 34 in Lyons

I-290 / IL 110 (CKC) in Maywood
I-90 in Chicago
North end: IL 72 in Chicago
Counties: Will, Cook
Highway system
IL 170 I-172

Illinois Route 171 (IL 171) is a north–south state road in northeastern Illinois. It runs from U.S. Route 6 (US 6) in Joliet north to Illinois Route 72 at the ChicagoPark Ridge border. This is a distance of 38.61 miles (62.14 km).[1] The section of IL 171 on Archer Avenue from Joliet to Summit is historically significant, originating as a Native American trail, and later serving for a time as part of the first numbered highway between St. Louis and Chicago.

The current Illinois Route 171 incorporates part or all of previous IL 4, IL 4A, and IL 213.


  • Route description 1
    • Joliet to Lockport 1.1
    • Lockport to Summit 1.2
    • Summit to Chicago 1.3
  • History 2
    • Before automobiles 2.1
    • Original S.B.I. 171 2.2
    • Original S.B.I. 4 2.3
    • Routes 4A and 213 2.4
    • Modern Route 171 2.5
    • Claims of supernatural occurrences 2.6
  • Major intersections 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Route description

Scenic section of IL 171 in the Palos Forest Preserve
Northbound IL 171 in Willow Springs approaching US 12/US 20/US 45 and I-294

IL 171 is mostly two lanes wide from Joliet to Willow Springs, and then four lanes wide to its northern endpoint in Chicago. It is a four-lane freeway for about 2 miles (3.2 km), from its intersection with West 55th Street and Archer Avenue in Summit, to its intersection with West 44th Place in Lyons.

Joliet to Lockport

IL 171 begins in Joliet as Collins Street, at an intersection with US 6 which is East Jackson Street. On its way out of town, it passes the historic Joliet Correctional Center, used as a location in several television shows and movies including The Blues Brothers.[3] From Joliet to Lockport, it parallels the Des Plaines River, and IL 53 (which had formerly been US 66) on the other side of the river. It passes through historic Downtown Lockport as State Street, intersecting IL 7 at 9th Street.

Lockport to Summit

On the north side of Lockport, IL 171 bends northeast onto Archer Avenue. It intersects Interstate 355 (I-355, Veterans Memorial Tollway) just south of Lemont. At the community of Sag Bridge, it is joined by IL 83, and the two routes run concurrently for about one mile (1.6 km) to cross the Calumet Sag Channel on the Archer Avenue Bridge.[4][5] The two routes split again immediately north of the bridge, as IL 83 continues north while IL 171 resumes its northeastward course, passing St. James at Sag Bridge Church and Cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6] It then makes a scenic passage through the Palos Division[7] of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, a very large natural preserve. Leaving the forest preserve, it passes through the village of Willow Springs which was built strung out along the road. IL 171 has a complex interchange with US 12/US 20/US 45 (LaGrange Road) and I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) on the border between Willow Springs and Justice, and continues northeastward through Justice, passing Bethania and Resurrection Cemeteries. It then passes through small sections of Bridgeview and Bedford Park on its way into Summit.

Summit to Chicago

At an intersection with West 55th Street in Summit, IL 171 bends sharply to the north, becoming a freeway for about two miles (3.2 km), crossing the Illinois and Michigan Canal, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Stevenson Expressway (I-55), and the Des Plaines River at a cloverleaf interchange whose ramps had to be built as bridges over these watercourses due to their close proximity to I-55. It then enters McCook and has interchanges with Joliet Road (Historic US 66), and West 47th Street at the border between McCook and Lyons, before the freeway ends at West 44th Place in Lyons. Continuing as First Avenue, IL 171 intersects US 34 at Ogden Avenue, and passes to the east of Brookfield Zoo in Brookefield. Continuing north into Maywood, it passes Loyola University Medical Center before interesecting I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway). It continues north through Melrose Park where it intersects IL 64 at North Avenue, and River Grove, where its name changes to Thatcher Avenue. At West Belmont Avenue, it enters the City of Chicago, becoming North Cumberland Avenue, at 8400 West in the Chicago address system. It intersects IL 19 at Irving Park Road. It then has a cloverleaf interchange with I-90 (Kennedy Expressway) before ending at IL 72 (Higgins Road), at the border between Chicago and Park Ridge, near O'Hare Airport.


Before automobiles

The route followed by IL 171 from Joliet to Summit was originally a Native American trail.[6][8] It can be found on a map from 1837.[9] This original trail continued northeast beyond Summit around the southern shore of historic Mud Lake as a dry land route past the marshy Chicago Portage, ending where Downtown Chicago is now. This ancient trail is known today as Archer Avenue.

Original S.B.I. 171

Illinois State Bond Issue Route 171 (S.B.I. 171) was established in 1924 in the northwestern part of the state, and ran from Thomson to S.B.I. 78, along what is now called the Argo-Fay Route. This first IL 171 appeared on maps starting in 1929,[10] but was gone by 1931 and never reappeared on this alignment.

Original S.B.I. 4

The first road from Joliet to Chicago was shown as "Lone Star Route" on early road maps.[11] In 1924 S.B.I. 4 was designated as the first numbered route from Saint Louis to Chicago. From Joliet to Lyons, the original S.B.I 4 followed the route of modern IL 171, along Archer Avenue, except for a jog through Lemont on State and Main streets to bypass an unpaved section of Archer Avenue. It then rejoined Archer Avenue at Sag Bridge.[11] At Summit, the original S.B.I. 4 continued along the modern alignment of IL 171 north to Lyons, where S.B.I. 4 turned east on Ogden Avenue towards Chicago.

Routes 4A and 213

In 1926, a new alignment for the Saint Louis to Chicago through highway was opened as IL 4 on the northwest side of the Des Plaines River from Joliet to Lyons. This new alignment would later become US 66 and then I-55. Its previous alignment on Archer Avenue was renumbered as IL 4A.[12] By 1932, Archer Avenue was completely paved, so IL 4A no longer detoured through Lemont.[13]

In 1934, IL 4A was extended east into Chicago along 55th Street and Garfield Boulevard to South Park Boulevard (now called Martin Luther King Jr. Drive), where it turned north to end at Leif Erickson Drive (now called Lake Shore Drive), which was US 12/US 20/US 41 at the time. This 1934 endpoint was roughly at the site of today's McCormick Place.[14]

The next year, the 1935 map shows that the section of former IL 4A from Summit to Lyons had been designated as IL 213. It also shows IL 4A truncated to the intersection of Garfield Boulevard and South Park Boulevard, which had been designated US 330.[15] By 1939 IL 4A had been rerouted from 55th Street, more directly into Downtown Chicago on Archer Avenue.[16] In 1935, IL 4, IL 4A's parent route, was truncated to end at Springfield, having been replaced by US 66 from Springfield to Chicago. This left IL 4A from Joliet to Chicago as an odd remote orphan of its Downstate parent route until it was eliminated in 1967.[15]

Modern Route 171

In 1946, IL 213 was renumbered IL 171, still connecting IL 4A in Summit to US 34 in Lyons. This is the first appearance of the modern IL 171.[2] In the mid-1960s, as part of the construction of the new Stevenson Expressway, IL 171 was upgraded to a freeway between Summit and Lyons, including its interchange with I-55. In 1967, IL 4A was eliminated, and its section between Joliet and Summit became a southern extension of IL 171.[17] In 1998, IL 171 was extended northward through several suburban communities and the Northwest Side of Chicago, crossing I-290 and I-90, to end at IL 72 (Higgins Road) on the border between Chicago and Park Ridge near O'Hare Airport.[18]

Claims of supernatural occurrences

The main gate of Resurrection Cemetery on Archer Avenue, reputedly the home of Resurrection Mary

The section of IL 171 on Archer Avenue between Sag Bridge and Justice is reputed to be haunted. There have been reports of ghostly monks in the cemetery at St. James at Sag Bridge Church since the mid-1800s; in 1977 police are said to have chased a group of them into the cemetery.[19][20] A vanishing hitchhiker known as Resurrection Mary is said to ask for rides between the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs and Resurrection Cemetery in Justice - and then disappear into the cemetery.[21]

Major intersections

County Location mi km Destinations Notes
Mile 0.00–8.82
Joliet 0.00 0.00 US 6 East Jackson Street at North Collins Street
Lockport IL 7 (9th Street)
I-355 (Veteran's Memorial Tollway)
Mile 0.00–29.79
Sag Bridge IL 83 (Kingery Highway) IL 171 overlaps IL 83 for about one mile (1.6 km)
Willow Springs US 12 / US 20 / US 45 (LaGrange Road)
Justice I-294 south (Tri-State Tollway) – Indiana Access to southbound I-294 only; no access to IL 171 from I-294
Summit Begin freeway section at West 55th Street
I-55 (Stevenson Expressway)
McCook Historic US 66 (Joliet Road)
Lyons West 47th Street
End freeway section at West 44th Place
US 34 (Ogden Avenue)
I-290 / IL 110 (CKC) (Eisenhower Expressway)
Melrose Park IL 64 (North Avenue)
Chicago IL 19 (Irving Park Road)
I-90 (Kennedy Expressway)
38.6 62.1 IL 72 (Higgins Road)
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b Illinois Technology Transfer Center (2007). "T2 GIS Data".  
  2. ^ a b Illinois Road Map (Map). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by  
  3. ^ Joliet Visitors Bureau. "In The Movies". Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ Illinois Department of Transportation. "Bridge Information: Structure Number 160427". Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  5. ^ Holth, Nathan. "Archer Avenue Bridge". Self-published. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Staff. "Parish History". Historic St. James at Sag Bridge. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ Region 6 Map of Natural Areas & Activities (PDF) (Map).  
  8. ^ Gurlacz, Betsy (2005). "Justice, IL". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  9. ^ Map of 1837 Illinois with "Proposed Improvements" (Map). Illinois Genealogy Trails. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  10. ^ Official Illinois Highway Map (Map). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by James T. Igoe Company. Illinois Automobile Department. 1929. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Illinois Official Auto Trails Map (Map). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by Rand McNally. Illinois Automobile Department. 1924. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  12. ^ Illinois Official Auto Road Map (Map). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by Rand McNally. Illinois Automobile Department. 1926. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  13. ^ Official Illinois Highway Map (Map). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by James T. Igoe Company. Illinois Automobile Department. 1932. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  14. ^ Official Road Map Illinois (Map). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by Rand McNally. Illinois Automobile Department. 1934. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Official Illinois Road Map (Map). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by  
  16. ^ Illinois Road Map (Map) (1939–40 ed.). c. 1:950,000. Cartography by Rand McNally. Illinois Automobile Department. 1939. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  17. ^ Illinois Official Highway Map (Map). 1:772,500. Cartography by Rand McNally. Illinois Division of Highways. 1967. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  18. ^ Illinois Highway Map (Map) (1999–2000 ed.). 1:762,500. Illinois Automobile Department. 1999. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  19. ^ Hucke, Matt (1996). "St James - Sag Bridge". Graveyards of Illinois. Self-published. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  20. ^ Taylor, Troy (2002). "Haunted Archer Avenue". Weird & Haunted Chicago. Self-published. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  21. ^ Taylor, Troy (2012). "Resurrection Mary". Weird & Haunted Chicago. Self-published. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 

External links

  • Illinois State Highways: Route 171
  • Illinois Highway Ends: Illinois Route 171
  • Historical Illinois Highway Map Collection
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