On April 16, 1958—55 years ago today—Mayor Richard J. Daley dedicated the latest and greatest of his public works projects. Chicago now at its first modern toll highway, the Calumet Skyway.
Construction took two years and cost $101 million (about $850 million in today’s money). The elevated highway ran 7.5 miles southeast along the Pennsylvania Railroad embankment, from State-66th to the Indiana border, where there was a direct connection with the Indiana Tollway. The speed limit was 50, and the toll was 25 cents.
The morning’s ceremonies began at the Indiana end at 10:45 a.m. With 400 dignitaries and invited guests on hand, Daley and Indiana’s lieutenant governor cut the ribbon. Then the toll barriers were raised.
First vehicle on the new road was a school bus carrying 31 students and two teachers from Neil Elementary School. A 5th grade class from the school wrote to the mayor asking for the honor. The official motorcade followed. They all stopped at the 86th Street Toll Plaza for another ceremony.