Disappearing roadside icons: Chicago’s Des Plaines Oasis

If you’ve ever driven south or east through Chicago, you know this spot…

Courtesy of the Daily Herald.

The Des Plaines Oasis that spans Interstate 90 is as close to iconic as anything is on the long drive to civilization. It’s the last chance for gas before the grind of driving through Chicago.

If you had/have kids, there was a reason they call it an oasis. The “are we there yet” crowd could be easily mollified by eating fairly bad food while cars passed underneath. Hey, any port in a storm!

Kiss it goodbye.

The oasis is closing for good in 10 days, officials announced this week. Then it’s going to be torn down, the road will be widened, and an all-electronic toll road will be in place by 2025, connecting I-90 to O’Hare.

The five original oasis stops were built by Standard Oil in 1959 and remodeled in 1984 when fast food companies took them over from Howard Johnson’s.

Here’s a video created for the Illinois Tollway in 1959, starring a character named “Mary MacToll.”

  • Chris

    Oh that just makes me sad. I was raised in Illinois and that is a very familiar landmark.

  • Nikki

    The IL oases are representative of a time period & culture, and in that way, they are part of local and national history. Oases used to be something special. They were even displayed on postcards- proof that they were destinations themselves! Unfortunately, they’re not what they used to be. The highway system in general has been poorly preserved, so it’s sad to lose another icon.

  • DavidG

    of course, the Tollway now gets to collect tolls for entry/exits for gas/food, that they used to not get from those that used the oasis.

  • Matty A

    Now where am I going to blow up a phone booth with my flame thrower? Oh wait… The Blues Brothers already did that there. So sad.