Yep, that’s right. No vans on Lake Shore Drive.
You’re not allowed to drive any vehicle designed to carry freight or other commercial goods on Lake Shore Drive, or any thoroughfare in Chicago designated as a boulevard, even if you are not using the vehicle for that purpose. The only exception is if you’re coming to Chicago on I-55 to attend a game at Solder Field, then you may drive a truck on Lake Shore Drive from I-55 to the Soldier Field parking lot. The crazy part is that this even applies to regular old trucks with truck license plates. So what happens if you get caught? You get a big fat ticket.
The rationale? It’s a doozy! Apparently the reason is rooted in historical tradition when, in the late 1800s, Lake Shore Drive was created to be a “pleasure drive,” according to city sources. It was a way to enjoy the park in your carriage or brougham. (A brougham being a light carriage that was drawn by a single horse.) Thursday afternoons were set aside for bringing your fastest horse and lightest broughams for races. Over the years the parkway grew into a main vein for transportation, but the idea of it being a pleasure drive stuck, meaning commercial vehicles have continued to be banned to keep the “working life” separated from the upper-crust. Oh, traditions, sometimes we love you and sometimes you’re just a big pain in the arse!