Melrose Park, Illinois

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{city, large, area}
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Melrose Park is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 23,171 at the 2000 census. Melrose Park has long been home to a large Italian-American population, though now it is majority Mexican-American. It was the home of Kiddieland Amusement Park and the current home of Maywood Park Racetrack, Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and Stern Pinball, Inc., which is the world's last manufacturer of coin-operated pinball machines.[1]

There is a Metra railroad station in Melrose Park with daily service to Chicago. Melrose Park is home to two hospitals, Westlake Hospital and Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

Contents

History

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, in 1882 residents of a then-unincorporated portion of Proviso Township voted to establish their own municipality—called simply "Melrose" until 1893, when the "Park" was added—and population in the area began to steadily increase. The first Italian-Americans arrived in 1888. On April 19, 1920 the F4 Palm Sunday tornado cut a 100 m wide path over 1 km through the village and killed 10. It destroyed the Sacred Heart Church and attached convent.[2]

At the turn of the century, the population surge plateaued and industry began to stagnate. It wasn't until after World War I that the local economy was able to recover, the result of a number of manufacturing companies setting up shop in the village. New industry, coupled with Melrose Park's prime geographic location next to the Proviso freight yards, led to a steady increase in the number of area jobs. This continued after World War II, with still more companies moving to Melrose Park. Zenith Electronics, Alberto-Culver, Jewel, and International Harvester are some examples.[3] Many of these companies are still located in Melrose Park and local industry remains stable.

During the late 1990's, in an effort to attract more commerce, the village underwent major cosmetic improvements, beginning with the redesigning of all village street signs. The wooded area on both sides of Silver Creek, between Broadway and 17th Avenue along North Avenue, was almost completely dug up, the grass replaced, and wood chips were added along the bases of the remaining trees. Many busy streets were repaved and the athletic field next to the village hall was completely redone. This has helped not only to attract new businesses, but also many first-time home buyers.

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