The Northwest Tollway in 1958 and Route 53 in 1963 brought tremendous growth and development to the suburbs. Both had been in the planning stages for many decades. To raise the roadbed over other roads, fill was excavated creating a number of artificial lakes. Route 53 ran right through a subdivision just north of Northwest Highway. Pretty little Bluebell Estates was only seven years old when its houses had to be moved to Leonard Road. The planned extension of Route 53 north of Lake Cook Road has for years been a battleground between the State of Illinois and the Village of Long Grove. The expressway would split the bucolic village in two.
The spreading popularity of the automobile put pressure on Cook County to improve its roads. Chicagoans were eager to step back in time and visit the surrounding “cow towns”. In 1919 Cook County Board Commissioner and Mount Prospect Village President, William Busse, got together with Arlington Heights Village President Al Volz and decided to build Northwest Highway. The road had been nothing but a pair of wagon ruts for many decades. But Palatine and Barrington were not cooperative. They didn’t want to raise taxes to pay for the necessary street sewers. So Cook County built the road around those two downtowns. Almost immediately the road was flooded on Sundays with city gawkers.
Why do our roads go this way and that? It often depends on who created them. Large animals and the Indians who hunted them are probably responsible for the gentle curves of Algonquin Road and Dundee Road. The original trails tended to go around obstacles. The federal government built military roads such as Army Trail Road, Lake Street and Rand Road. Early farmers wanted roads such as Freeman and Baldwin to meander past neighbor homes. Baldwin once followed Northwest Highway east from Quentin Road to what is now Clark Street, Carpenter Street and finally Williams Drive. Palatine Township used survey lines to supervise the construction of Quentin Road and Roselle Road.