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Check Out Drivers Braving The Infamous Lake Shore Drive 'S' Curve

By Justin Breen | January 6, 2017 6:18am | Updated on January 8, 2017 8:51am

DOWNTOWN — A recently unearthed Chicago Film Archives video shows a taste of Chicago from decades ago, including drivers zig-zagging their way on Lake Shore Drive's infamous former "S Curve." 

The 67-minute video begins with an aerial look at Downtown, including a shot of cars driving on the "S Curve," which was replaced about 30 years ago with Lake Shore Drive's current look.

The video also includes Chicago spots in Lincoln Park, Portage Park, along Michigan Avenue — including the Art Institute of Chicago — the Field Museum and Maxwell Street Market. It also shows the 1952 dedication at Gordon Tech High School, which is now named DePaul College Prep.

Dates of the video run from 1941-1960, according to Chicago Film Archives.

RELATED: Remember The Old Lake Shore Drive 'S' Curve? It's Been Gone For 30 Years

Thirty years ago, a new, gentler curve replaced the infamous section of Lake Shore Drive just south of the Chicago River. The new section replaced a curve that John LaPlante, a city traffic engineer at the time, said was more like a "Z-pattern" and a "traffic disaster." It had been in use for 50 years and caused countless accidents.

"Many people couldn't make that turn, especially if the weather was bad," said LaPlante, who's now retired and a Lincoln Square resident. "The bends were at more than 90 degrees."

LaPlante, a Roseland native who graduated from Fenger High School and Illinois Institute of Technology, was asked to draw designs for a potential new S-curve in 1962 when he was a graduate student at Northwestern University and an intern for the Chicago Department of Transportation. Some of his designs were implemented into the new S-curve, which cost $90 million.

The former curve, built in the 1930s when cars didn't travel as fast, featured two 90-degree angles: one just south of the Chicago River and another at Wacker Drive.

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