Western Springs, Illinois

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Western Springs is an affluent suburb of Chicago located in Cook County, Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 12,493. It is twinned with Rugeley, a small town in the United Kingdom.

In November, 2007, BusinessWeek.com listed Western Springs second in a list of the 50 best places to raise children.[1] The rankings were based on five factors, including school test scores, cost of living, recreational and cultural activities, number of schools and risk of crime. Western Springs ranked behind Groesbeck, Ohio.

Contents

History

Western Springs, located along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) between Chicago and Aurora, encompasses roughly the area between Willow Springs Road, Ogden Avenue, Interstate 294, and 55th Street. Named for local mineral springs on the southwest side of town, Western Springs originally consisted of flat prairie land with a swamp on its western border.

Around the turn of the 18th century, nomadic Potawatomi Native Americans settled in the Western Springs area. The Potawatomi tribe was nomadic. It is unclear whether they built a village, but evidence of temporary campsites has been found near Flagg Creek in Forest Hills. The natives were gone by the end of 1835, but Potawatomi artifacts may still be found buried in the Springdale neighborhood.

The first known settler in the area near Western Springs was Elijah Wentworth. By 1834, after the Black Hawk War, farmer Joseph Vial had moved from New York and built a cabin along what is now Plainfield Road, an ex-Native American trail in the south of Western Springs. This cabin served as a stagecoach station, hotel, general store, and post office for the entire area.

The CB&Q Railroad built a line through Western Springs in 1863, filling in much of the west-side swamp in the process. In 1870 the Western Springs Land Association, consisting of promoter Thomas Clarkson Hill, William Page, and two sons of Phillip F. W. Peck, bought the three tracts that make up the area for $105,000.

A large number of early residents were Quakers, and deeds often prohibited the sale of alcohol. In 1872 Hill moved to the area from Chicago, and the community began organizing to attract more commuters. Residents built a wooden schoolhouse (1872) and a post office (1873). Over time, with increased commuter settlement, Western Springs came to look less and less Quaker.

In 1885 the Grand Avenue School replaced the wooden schoolhouse, and the office of village marshal was created as a combination policeman, dogcatcher, and groundskeeper. In 1886 the Friend's Church (razed in 1958) was built on the corner of Walnut and Woodland. That same year Western Springs incorporated as a village on February 30, 1886 by a public vote of 34 to 25. The voting townspeople elected a prominent Quaker developer, T. C. Hill, as the town's first president [[:Template:Mulvaney, M. (1987). Western Springs: Then and Now Western Springs Area Branch of the American Association of University Women.]].

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