Brick street Wilmette IL

There are a few towns in the Chicago area with brick streets. Downers Grove has some. Forest Park has about a dozen. Oak Park has one or two. But as far as I know, no town has as extensive a network of brick streets as Wilmette. Wilmette has thirteen miles of brick streets (with another three and a half under asphalt) and they are one of the things that gives our village its charm.

wilmette brick streetsThe paving of our streets began in the 1880's with Forest Avenue (east of the tracks) being the first to be paved with brick. By 1916 the village had over 24 miles of brick streets. They make for a bumpy ride and they are harder to plow in the winter but they are also a natural "traffic calmer". And they do last longer than asphalt streets.

Many of the bricks used to pave Wilmette streets came from the Purington Brickyards in Galesburg, once the largest brick maker in the world. More recent renovation and repairs have used recycled bricks supplied by Gavin Historical Bricks in Iowa City.

Pavers are different than ordinary building bricks. They are made from a mix of shale, clay, sand and kiln-fired at extreme temperatures making them very hard, smooth, non-porous and heavy.

During the Depression a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project was initiated to relay the bricks to preserve the character of the eastern part of the village while providing jobs. The bricks were removed and turned upside down to put the worn side down and the "new' side up.

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