Riverside, Illinois

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Riverside is an affluent suburban village in Cook County, Illinois, a significant portion of which is included in the Riverside Landscape Architecture District. The population was 8,895 at the 2000 census. It is a suburb of Chicago, located roughly 9 miles west of downtown Chicago and two miles outside city limits. The village was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.[3]



Riverside is arguably the first planned community in the United States, designed in 1869 by Frederick Law Olmsted. The village was incorporated in 1875. The Riverside Landscape Architecture District, an area bounded by 26th St., Harlem and Ogden Aves., the Des Plaines River, and Forbes Rd., was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.[4]

In 1863 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was built heading southwest from downtown Chicago to Quincy, Illinois, passing through what is now the Near West Suburban area of Chicago in a western-southwestern direction. This new access to transportation and commerce brought about a significant housing and construction boom in what was once farmland far from the bustle of the city of Chicago.

In 1868, an eastern businessman named Emery E. Childs formed the Riverside Improvement Company, and purchased a1,600-acre (6.5 km2) tract of property along the Des Plaines River and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad line. The site was highly desirable due to its natural oak-hickory forest and its proximity to the Chicago Loop. The company commissioned well-known landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner, Calvert Vaux, to design a rural bedroom community. The town's plan, which was completed in 1869, called for curvilinear streets, following the land's contours and the winding Des Plaines River. The plan also accorded for a central village square, located at the main railroad station, and a Grand Park system that uses several large parks as a foundation, with 41 smaller triangular parks and plazas located at intersections throughout town to provide for additional green spaces.[5]

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