Slice of Life: Tripping on LSD

Lake Shore Drive - Chicago, Illinois - July, 2013 - 001

It is perhaps Chicago’s most iconic thoroughfare—Lake Shore Drive, commonly known as L.S.D.  In this photo we see morning commuters streaming into The Loop from the north.

The first stretch of Lake Shore Drive, from Belmont to Foster, opened in 1933.  When the downtown section opened in 1937 it ran along Leif Ericson Drive and Field Boulevard.  It was named Lake Shore Drive in the 1940’s.  The road has undergone a number of changes since then, most notably the  demolition of the city’s infamous Outer Drive S-curve in the 1980’s.

The Field Boulevard alignment of Lake Shore Drive still exists as two short stretches of street running through Lakeshore East.

Long-time Chicagoans may remember the city’s experiment with reversible lanes on the northern stretch of the highway.  There were pneumatic bollards sunk into the pavement of the road that would move up and down to change the lane configuration.  They were removed in the 1970’s, not because cars would get caught on them, but because the mechanical system was unreliable and easily damaged by harsh Chicago winters.

Lake Shore Drive is also one of two Chicago transportation features to have a radio station named after it: WDRV/Chicago and WWDV/Zion, “The Drive”.  The other is WLUP-FM, “The Loop.”

The Chicago Department of Transportation is working on the latest renovation plan for the northern portion of the Drive.  You can read more about it here.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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