Ogden Avenue Corridor Has Rich History

Article excerpt

Among famous roads, Ogden Avenue may lack the glitz of Fifth Avenue, the prominence of Downing Street or the notoriety of Abbey Road, but in the Western suburbs of Chicago, Ogden has a long, rich history.

Travel along its 37 miles of asphalt and youll notice mom-and-pop businesses, strip malls, restaurants, churches, offices, houses, industry, medical facilities, service shops and auto dealers exhibiting a mixed-bag of signage.

Ogden Avenue is an arterial street starting in Chicago at the river north of Chicago Avenue, and continuing southwest through Douglas Park and Cermak Woods, and winding through the Western suburbs of Brookfield, Hinsdale, Downers Grove, Lisle and Naperville.

In Aurora, at its intersection with Farnsworth Avenue, the roads name changes to Oswego, however its Route 34 designation continues.

Long before Ogden Avenue became the backbone of commercial development, it was an Indian trail referred to as the Ottawa Trail, frequented by the Potawatomis who lived on land that is now part of the Morton Arboretum.

Lisles first two permanent settlers, brothers Luther and James Hatch, came to Lisle in 1832. With settlement came a demand for roads, and trails were logical places for the first ones. When the West opened after the Black Hawk War, a successful entrepreneur, Mark Beaubien,

moved from Chicago in 1840 to Lisle at an area near present-day Ogden Avenue and Plank Road. He chose this location because it was a days ride from the city. Naperville was a stop on the Galena-Chicago stagecoach line.

Upon the rise of land, Beaubien created a small family burial plot that remains today. Repeating a business he had in the city, he built Beaubien Tavern. His entertaining fiddling was legendary among fur traders, settlers and Indians.

Dirt roads that were fine for riding horses turned into a nightmare in rainy weather when horse-drawn buggies and stagecoaches languished in mud.

The idea of a road built of wooden planks began in Russia and came through Canada to the United States in 1848.

First, two lines of wood stringers were embedded on solid ground eight feet apart. Across this base, 3-inch thick planks formed the roadway. Newspapers of the day praised plank roads and questioned how the fledgling railroads could do better.

Southwest Plank Road (Ogden Avenue) followed the Ottawa Trail and was a principle road out of Chicago. An ad in the DuPage County Recorder in 1850 read: "Planks wanted: We will take any amount of white or burr oak plank from those invested in us, if delivered at Naperville, or any place on the Plank Road, before the first day of April. The planks should be 8 feet long, 3 inches thick and no more than 13 inches wide; 500,000 feet of plank wanted for stock in the company. …