From 1959: Take the Illinois Tollway...with Mary MacToll?

Vintage spots designed to encourage tollway use

July 31, 2013

Check out the above video from the Illinois Tollway Authority.

The three tollways that made up the system at the time--the Tri-State, Northwest and East-West--opened in 1958, so a series of spots were created in 1959 to promote use of the 187-mile network. The advertisements featured the character Mary MacToll, tooling around the tollway in a convertible while mocking us with singing a variation of the Scottish tune, The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond.

Credit the toll authority for unearthing this gem. The agency posted it on YouTube in 2011, but I ran across it earlier this morning when a fit of insomnia prompted me to get on the computer.

Watching the commercial now, you can't help but notice how naive it all was. Much of the tree lined suburban countryside seen in 1959 would be plowed under for office parks, malls and housing subdivisions in the decades to come. The agency now has 290 miles of roads under its control and has spent a whopping $3.6 billion since 2005 to keep them in good repair.

But that's now; this is then. And.there's more on the agency's YouTube channel.