On the southwest corner of the Washington Street and Chicago Avenue intersection is a large mural called “A City in Transit.” Celebrating our city’s “evolution of travel.” it was painted in 1998 by Hector Duarte and Mariah de Forest, two prolific Chicago muralists from the Taller Mesitzarte workshop and gallery.
Folks don’t travel on the DuPage River as much as over it, so a couple of bridges are illustrated. There’s also bit of the Old Plank Road which was originally a Native American trail and now is Ogden Avenue/Route 34.
1865 wooden bridge at Washington Street with 1856 stone bridge on Main Street beyond
Because of investments in the Plank Road, Naperville first refused a railroad before eventually agreeing. In the mural, the Chicago-to-Denver Zephyr is shown waiting at the station.
Many of the buildings sport signs to help identify them. The Pre-Emption House is one and the Naperville Creamery is another.
Walter Fredenhagen started making Frozen Gold ice cream in the 1930s. With partner Earl Prince, he launched Prince Castle ice cream shops, like the one in the mural, which became the Cock Robin ice cream chain. Fredenhagen Park is now where Naperville’s Cock Robin was located, just steps away on Washington Street.
Other signs name the myriad of garages, gas stations and motor companies that used to be downtown, although that may seem strange to us today. At one time, Jimmy’s Grill was one of several gas stations and there were five different car dealers in the middle of town. Clyde Netzley opened his garage in the 1920s and later operated a Chrysler dealership just across the street from this mural where the River Square shopping center currently is.
Painted high on the wall is the Lima Lima Flight Team whose yellow T-34s were once a common sight for flyovers during parades and other occasions. The club was organized in 1975 by some folks out at the Naper Aero Club whose FAA designator, LL-10, gives them their name. Many of the original Lima Lima pilots have retired or moved away, but the team is still active and flies in airshows across the country.