River Forest, Illinois: Proud Heritage - Bright Future
Washington Square Park, outside the entrance of the tennis courts. The park is located at the corner of Forest Ave. and Washington Boulevard, River Forest IL
Patrick Yerkes- Boy Scout Troop 65-Eagle Scout Project and The Illinois State Historical Society
The site of present-day River Forest was once home to prehistoric Native Americans, who constructed large effigy mounds throughout the region. Soon after the American Revolution Chippewa, Menominee, and Potawatomi Indians moved onto the landscape, but by 1835 most native tribes were gone, complying with terms of the 1833 treaty of Chicago.
On the east bank of the Des Plaines River, a steam powered sawmill built in the 1830s provided lumber for an expanding population. Its future co-owner, Ashbelle Steele, was the first European settler in the county, arriving in 1836. In 1859 he contracted for the landmark brick "Harlem School." The Pennsylvania Turnpike (now Lake Street) was laid out in 1842 and one of the first planked roads in America. In 1880 prosperous settlers influenced by the temperance movement incorporated River Forest. The town installed electric street lights in 1890. In 1914 the River Forest Park District purchased Washington Square to prevent an ice manufacturer from coming into town. Likewise, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County purchased a portion of Thatcher Woods in 1917 to preserve an Oak Savanna. The town grew from 1,000 residents in 1894 to 8,829 by 1930. The River Forest Tennis Club (1905) with its showcase Frank Lloyd Wright Clubhouse, was home to the National Clay Courts Championship from 1935-1966. Trailside Museum, a converted Victorian mansion built by Abraham L. Hoffman in 1874, is a local nature center.
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