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Park Ridge City


Park Ridge City Hall is located at 505 Butler Pike, Park Ridge, IL 60068; phone: 847-318-5200.

Beginnings [1]

As a suburb of Chicago, Park Ridge has from the outset been linked to the central city. As the metropolitan area has grown, however, the linkages to other suburban areas have become stronger and increasingly diverse. Nevertheless, Park Ridge enjoys its own history and its own contemporary identity. Similarly, it will experience a future in many ways unique to itself, yet intertwined with the region.

Europeans first traveled across the area which is now Park Ridge in the late 17th Century when Joliet, Marquette and LaSalle portaged between the Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers during their explorations of the Mississippi River Valley. Permanent settlers did not arrive until the mid-1830's, however, when the Indians were forced west of the Mississippi after the Black Hawk War. The first settler in the immediate area was Captain Wright who erected a cabin in 1832 near the location where Potter Road and Manor Lane intersect today. Many more settlers quickly followed, most of them from New England, New York State and Germany.

In 1853, George Penny settled here, formed a partnership with Robert Meacham, and opened a brickyard in the area north of Cedar Avenue between Grand Boulevard and Meacham Avenue. By the late 1850's, Park Ridge had become a small brick manufacturing village surrounded by farms and divided by the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. In 1856, Penny offered to build a passenger station and maintain it for ten years, if the train would stop in Park Ridge. Regular rail service facilitated shipment of brick to Chicago as well as the shipment of local farmers' produce. With the brickyard as the major industry, the small community became known as Pennyville, but in 1858, at Mr. Penny's request, the name was changed to Brickton. Truck farms and greenhouses sprang up in the area to serve the growing needs of the City of Chicago.

By the 1870's the community had expanded to a population of 400 and on July 4, 1873, was formally incorporated as a Village and its name changed to Park Ridge. This change was prompted by the closing of the brickyard, and the new name selected because of the ridge line along Prospect Street which separates the Des Plaines and Chicago River watersheds.

The community continued to grow slowly during the latter part of the 19th Century as summer homes and an artists' colony were added. By 1910 Park Ridge had a population of over 2,000 inhabitants, and decided to change from a village form of government to city government. In the early 1900's, a number of important institutions were established in Park Ridge, including the Edison Park Home and the Park Ridge School for Girls (now known as the Park Ridge Youth Campus) in 1909, and the Park Ridge Country Club in 1911.

During the 1920's there was a major building boom in Park Ridge as real estate developers profited from the great demand for new housing. Farmers sold their land to real estate agents, and nurseries and greenhouses gave way to new subdivision developments. New streets and blocks were platted on the sites of old homesteads, and wide boulevards and parkways replaced narrow dirt roads. The commercial area also expanded as banks, car dealerships, stores and two movie theaters were added to the center of town. The Pickwick Theater and Maine East High School were built at the close of this period which ended suddenly with the start of the Depression.

Growth was halted until the early 1940's when World War II caused increased employment at Douglas Aircraft (now O'Hare field), resulting in a serious housing shortage. The Federal government participated in a housing construction program in Park Ridge and surrounding communities to meet that demand.

After the war, housing construction increased as government guaranteed loans to veterans and the ample availability of money for home mortgages stimulated additional subdivision development in Park Ridge. A larger number of homes were built in the City during the 1950's than in any other decade. The expanding population and increased school enrollment necessitated the development of new schools and neighborhood parks throughout the community.

  1. Teska Associates, Inc. for the City of Park Ridge, IL, Comprehensive Plan for the City of Park Ridge, 1996, www.parkridge.us, accessed July, 2016.
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