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Day Trip To Atlanta For First Anniversary

June 8, 2015 Featured, Metro East, Travel No Comments

Today is my wedding anniversary — my first ever.  When I finally acknowledged to myself, at age 16, that I was gay, the idea of marrying a man 30+ years later never entered my mind.  Thankfully the political & social landscape has changed a lot since then!

David and I exchanging our vows on Sunday June 8 2014, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer. The location was the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, IL.
David and I exchanging our vows on Sunday June 8 2014, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer. The location was the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, IL  Click image for information on Reimer’s new book “Happy Work”

To celebrate we decided to visit Atlanta…Illinois, not Georgia. First we visited his family in Springfield IL, then we headed north to Atlanta. This small town on the old Route 66 was incorporated in 1853.

We had lunch at the Palm Grill Cafe, which  opened in 1934 to serve travelers on Route 66. In 1947 a bypass sent Route 66 traffic around the East edge of town. The Palm Grill closed in the late 60s.
We had lunch at the Palm Grill Cafe, which opened in 1934 to serve travelers on Route 66. In 1947 a bypass sent Route 66 traffic around the East edge of town. The Palm Grill closed in the late 60s.
It reopened in 2009, helping boost the town's sales tax revenue. People from 50+ countries have signed their guest book. Click image to see video from 4 years after reopening. 
It reopened in 2009, helping boost the town’s sales tax revenue. People from 50+ countries have signed their guest book! Click image to see video from 4 years after reopening.
This symbolizes what they've done: the new iPad-based register sits next to a vintage register.
This symbolizes what they’ve done: the new iPad-based register sits next to a vintage register.
Next door we visited the Route 66 Arcade Museum, featuring arcade games from the 1930s-1980.
Next door we visited the Route 66 Arcade Museum, featuring arcade games from the 1930s-1980.
Across the street we checked out their Route 66 Park.
Across the street we checked out their Route 66 Park.
From inside the park. No building was razed for the park, the wood shed that has been on the site since the mid 19th century remains.
From inside the park. No building was razed for the park, the wood shed that has been on the site since the mid 19th century remains.

We decided to save the tour of the wood J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum and other sites for our next visit.  After Atlanta we drove 5 minutes North on the old Route 66 to the smaller town of McLean IL, incorporated 13 years later. We’d actually been to McLean before — the truck stop right off I-55 is where Megabus stops to/from Chicago.

The toen square is technically s triangle because of the design of the street grid & railroad
The toen square is technically s triangle because of the design of the street grid & railroad
A magnificent Secind Empire house near the town square.
A magnificent Secind Empire house near the town square.
These buildings face the square 00 love the corner building with the peaked clay tile roof.
These buildings face the square 00 love the corner building with the peaked clay tile roof.
Our destination was Arcadia.
Our destination was Arcadia.
This arcade features games from 1980-2000, click image for website
This arcade features games from 1980-2000, click image for website

These towns sprang up in the 19th century because of the railroad, which has me curious about how the railroads got their right-of-way. I also find the street patterns in these towns — in relation to the railroad — interesting.

The design of the original town of McLean remains almost unaltered to this day from the original plans. The design was similar to other places along the Alton and Springfield Railroad including Normal, Towanda, Odell, and Dwight. The original town was basically a square with streets aligned north-south and east-west, split diagonally by the railroad with a line of lots paralleling either side of the tracks.

As in other towns along the same railroad, there was a widened rectangular area paralleling the tracks labeled “Depot Grounds.” In the case of McLean, the Depot Grounds were laid out only on the southeast side of the railroad. The triangle of land on the northwest side, between the lots paralleling the railroad and remainder of the town, was designated as a public property and is still used as a park. The comparable triangle on the opposite side of the tracks was unlabeled and its intended use is unclear. This same arrangement of public land was followed at the town of Towanda.

Mclean was distinctive in that there were no streets between the diagonal line of lots along the tracks.Perhaps because of this, much of the business district developed along Morgan Street, which ran east-west just north of the park, or along Hamilton Street, which ran north-south, just west of the park. The line of lots paralleling the tracks and southeast of the railroad became the location of the hotel and the town jail. Later additions on the east side of the town featured additional lots which parallel the railroad as well as more conventional blocks (Wikipedia)

 Interstate 55 in this area opened in 1977, making the remaining Route 66 a by-road. We had a great day exploring Illinois, eating good food, and playing video games — a perfect way to celebrate our first anniversary!

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

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