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The following points of interest in Park Ridge are provided by the Chamber of Commerce. We encourage residents and visitors alike to see our community at your leisure by walking or biking on your own. If you prefer, Park Ridge Taxi has informed drivers or ride-along docents available too.
If you would like to organize a group tour with your own transportation, our ride-along docents can help you plan a one-to-two hour complete tour of the nearly two dozen sites. Meal stops at a 50’s style diner can be arranged too. Call 847-823-3111 for information.
So enjoy the City of Park Ridge and help us celebrate 100 years of history and more --
From the asteroid strike 15,000 years ago through pioneering days to the Kalo Arts and Crafts Community House, Captain Kangaroo’s Mr. Greenjeans, the Blues Brothers and Harrison Ford, find out how and why Park Ridge came to be and how the town has evolved through the years. Learn about the fascinating people, places and events have left their legacy as you walk or ride through history.
This building at 720 Garden which traces its roots back about a hundred years was also a broadcasting location for WLS radio, The Pantry restaurant, Wohlers Insurance, and American Insurance, before finding new life as the Park Ridge Non-Profit Center giving non-profits in town such as the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the Community Fund and the Kalo Foundation a place to share resources.
Garden at Third
The former home of the Park Ridge Historical Society, the Michael Schiessle home at 41 South Prairie has been in the Schiessle family for 111 years.
Nearby Cumberland Park
This year’s temporary public art project by Rainbow Hospice (summer, 2010) features the animal pairs on display here in Cumberland Park and also at Hodges Park and Centennial Park and highlight Rainbow’s inpatient unit, Rainbow Hospice Ark which is located at St. Matthew Center for Health.
Traditional Downtown (now Uptown) around Touhy and Prospect
The center of the settlement that would eventually become Park Ridge began when Jarius Warner and Thomas Stevens, the surveyors of Rand Road, built a small cabin a block west of Prospect on Northwest Highway in 1840—some people think it may have been as far north as Lutheran General Hospital. But in 1845, Mancel Talcott, Jr., built his house where JP Morgan Chase now stands.
416 Center (now Touhy Avenue)
One of the first famous alums of the Maine Township High Schools—the first one that was located on Thacker in Des Plaines—Hugh Brannum, class of 1927, played Mr. Green Jeans on Captain Kangaroo and lived at 416 Center—now Touhy Avenue. The home was torn down to make way for expansion of the oldest building in continuous use in Maine Township—First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge—in operation since 1857.
Elm at Grand
One of the oldest homes in Park Ridge at 310 Grand Boulevard was built in the 1850’s at the edge of the original clay pit that gave this town its beginnings. When George Penny came to the area in 1853 looking for clay that could be used in brick making, Smith’s Ridge became Pennyville. In 1873, Brickton became Park Ridge when the 403 citizens voted to change the name and adopt a village form of government.
Grand and Cedar
On the corner at 201 Grand Blvd is the home of Mayor William Malone who developed Cedar Court, the semi-circle of homes to the right designed by architect Barry Byrne. Can you tell which one has been replaced?
Cedar and Prospect
The northwest corner of Cedar and Prospect where this grand home now stands—one of the many teardowns that have changed the face of Park Ridge since the early 1990s, was once the site of Mimi’s Merry Mornings Nursery School which operated in a home built before prior 1875 and believed to be the last Brickton brick house in town.
Grant east of Prospect
The parking lot of the United Methodist Church was the site of Grant Place School, the first elementary school in Park Ridge.
Grant and Clinton
Before the turn of the century, the beauty of the area attracted many artists who located in the area of Clinton and Grant Place where Clara Barck Welles established the Kalo Arts Crafts Community House. Other artists who also lived and worked in Park Ridge include Albert Krehbiel and his wife, Dulah Evans Krehbiel, Alfonso Iannelli, Grant Wood, Eugene Romeo, Kenneth Brown Ransley.
Washington Street north of Touhy
Harrison Ford, 1960 graduate of Maine East High School, lived in this home at 109 Washington when he was the first student broadcaster on his high school’s new radio station, WMTH.
Elm at Wisner
Lawyer, former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was raised in this home at 235 Wisner.
Northeast corner of Sibley and Prospect
In 1928, a magnificent castle-like home built on this corner for B.J. Grigsby. In 1948, it was converted to the Park Ridge Military Academy which was torn down in 1970, but a vestige remains in the iron fencing along the east side of Prospect.
Southeast corner of Sibley and Prospect
When Park Ridge Country Club members purchased the park-like farm of Thomas Robb for a golf course in 1911, they commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to remodel the farmhouse that served as the first clubhouse until it was torn down in the 1920s to build the present one.
721 North Prospect
More than a hundred years ago, Julius Rosenwald, of Sears Roebuck fame, funded construction of this building, which serves as the new home of the Park Ridge Historical Society, stipulating that it be named for Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, the visionary leader of what was long known as the Park Ridge School for Girls.
Oakton between Prospect and Cumberland
If you look to the right, you’ll see Emerson Middle School, opened in 1998 just to the southeast but on the same site as Emerson Junior High which had closed in mid 1980s because of declining enrollment.
Greenwood and Oakton
The Park Ridge Fire Department was established in 1893 with volunteer firefighters. Today, this station at 1000 North Greenwood is one of two strategically located fire stations. Two stations are necessary because the town in divided by railroad tracks.
Greenwood between Oakton and Dempster
On our way to Maine Township Town Hall, we’ll learn a little bit about township government. In rural and unincorporated areas like Maine Township where more than 33,000 people live in the unincorporated area, townships provide grassroots government including general assistance, property assessment, and maintenance of township roads and bridges. With more than 50 lane miles of roadway, roughly 100 streets and untold numbers of sewers and sidewalks, Maine Township's unincorporated area is one of the largest in the entire state. Maine Township also enforces property maintenance, garbage and parking ordinances, a practice first approved as a result of landmark legislation because of complaints from residents of the unincorporated area that local building and land use codes were not being enforced.
Dempster east of Greenwood
Although Advocate Lutheran General Hospital has been a landmark in Park Ridge since December 1959, its origin dates back 112 years ago to Chicago’s near northwest side. Now in its second century, the 645-bed teaching, research and referral hospital is a Level I trauma center and one of the largest hospitals in the Chicago area. It also is home to Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital, the only children's hospital in the greater north and northwest suburban region of Chicago and a major regional referral center for a broad range of infant and pediatric services.
Ballard Road (between Potter and Greenwood)
Founded in 1850, Maine Township is the oldest unit of local government in the area and has seen its surroundings grow from a predominantly rural farming community to a major metropolitan area with some 135,000 residents. The Town Hall at 1700 Ballard Road was formerly Good Shepherd Community Church designed by Lloyd Wright, son of the world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. An addition to the site since the days of when the building was a church is the prairie garden along the east side of the building with plants dating back to prehistoric times.
Potter at Dempster
Maine East was built during 1928 and 1929 to suggest the design of the Westwood Campus of the University of California. Its imposing tower soon became a landmark. In addition to Harrison Ford, other famous Maine East alums include Stanton Cook, former publisher of the Chicago Tribune and chairman of the Chicago Cubs. Steve Goodman, the folksinger who wrote “The City of New Orleans” and “Go Cubs Go”, Roz Varron, a television news reporter in Chicago, Fox Chicago’s Rich Koz, known among many other persona as son of Svengoolie, and actresses Karen Black, Carrie Snodgrass, and Jamie Gertz.
Northwest Highway east of Dee
Northwest Park and the Franklin School grounds were once the site of a 160-acre farm where Mother Cabrini, who was the first naturalized American citizen to be canonized by the Catholic Church, grew vegetables for the city hospitals she founded Chicago.
Dee Road between Busse Highway and Higgins Road
Busse Highway is named for William Busse, a Cook County Highway Commissioner for more than 50 years, and Dee Road may be named for James Dee, an early landowner with property near Dee and Sibley or from the Scottish word, “Dee,” that means “river.”
Just north of Touhy, a sand and gravel pit which supplied Fred Fricke’s sand and gravel business once located on Main Street between Prairie and Touhy helped in the formation of Park Lake on the east and Murphy Lake on the west.
Town of Maine Cemetery (Touhy and Dee)
A walk through the cemetery not only shows you not only a headstone done in the style of a crossword puzzle but also the beautiful brick and stone building with one stained glass window designed by Alfonso Iannelli, the world famous sculptor and designer. You’ll also find the final resting place of at least six Park Ridge mayors.
Dee Road at Talcott
Opened in 1964, Maine South High School was originally designed as a campus plan that included five separate buildings, but a redesign pulled the five buildings into one. Besides Hillary Rodham Clinton, other famous alums include Dave Butz who played in Super Bowl 17 and 22 with the Washington Redskins, Ray Ozzie who invented Lotus notes, John Pankow, an actor, and Matt Bisbee, an instantly recognizable voice in Chicago radio years on such stations as the Loop, WLUP, The Drive, The Mix, and Love-FM.
Dee Road at Higgins
Originally the Wohlers Insurance Building, Big Ten Conference became the new owner of this building at 1500 South Higgins in 1991. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten Conference is the United States' oldest Division I college athletic conference and actually includes 11 schools. Can you see the 11 hidden in the logo?
Higgins at River Road
In the mid 1950s, when the unincorporated area that would become Rosemont was looking for a town to annex it, Park Ridge, as well as Des Plaines and Schiller Park, turned it down. So Rosemont incorporated in 1956, and Donald Stephens became the first village president.
Devon at River Road
The state's newest casino is scheduled to be constructed here at the northwest corner of Devon and River roads. Construction is expected to be completed before the end of 2011 and could be expanded to include hotels, more restaurants, and additional parking.
Note: west of here was Orchard Place, a small farming community that became the site of a new air base and aircraft manufacturing facility, Orchard Place Airport/Douglas Field has its legacy which persists in the O’Hare’s airport code—ORD.
River Road and Touhy
When construction began on the Deep Tunnel project and workers found shattered rock and the water table at 1500 feet when the surrounding area’s water table is generally at about 20 to 30 feet, scientists concluded about 15,000 years ago an asteroid had hit just about where the Touhy Toll Plaza stands today.
Touhy at Talcott
It was in this field northeast of the intersection of Touhy and Talcott where Albert Krehbiel—remember him from the Artists Colony—painted many of his works. When he died in 1945, his ashes were scattered at this spot so he could remain here forever.
Hamlin south of Talcott
A hundred years ago, open space still abounded in Park Ridge and family run greenhouses provided a money making opportunity. Chicago was a ready market for vegetables, flowers and herbs that could be shipped into the city by rail or truck. One remaining greenhouse still stands on the small farm plot owned by William and Violet Cline in the 700 block of South Hamlin.
Talcott and Cumberland
The Shell gas station and Nelson Funeral Home at the intersection of Talcott and Cumberland were made famous in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. At the intersection of Devon, Talcott and Courtland the brothers and the police spin out in the three-way intersection, before going on to continue the high speed chase through the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey—some 40 miles to the south.
Talcott and Courtland
Maybe this has always been known as a fast corner, because before the Blues Brothers—almost a hundred years ago—in 1912, the Murphy stock farm and harness racing track occupied all the land just east of here between Belle Plaine and Talcott.
Courtland near Belle Plaine
This home at 1001 S. Courtland is built from a mail order home system that furnished complete plans, architectural service, lumber and building material for $1795. At the beginning of the 20th Century, people could purchase a home by mail order and have all the pieces down to the last nail delivered by freight train.
Belle Plaine at Prospect
Mail order homes are scattered throughout the community and here we see another one at the corner of Belle Plaine and Prospect, a two family house, featuring 10 rooms and two baths, corner fireplaces in the parlors, and built-in buffets in the dining rooms offered from $1,549 to $3,067 depending on options. For more information about Park Ridge mail order homes, contact the Kalo Foundation.
Prospect north of Belle Plaine
Frederic Goudy, who is celebrated as one of the finest and most prolific type designers in history developing more than 120 typefaces—likely more than anyone—invented the Goudy typeface in 1903—his first Village type—in an old unheated garage behind this home at 329 N. Prospect, where with the help of his wife he had established the Village Press and published fine books.
Courtland between Butler Place and Vine
The renovation of the Camp Fire Girl Fountain in Hodges Park designed by internationally known sculptor Alfonso Iannelli Fountain was completed in 2007. Thirty-three granite “Milestones of History” encircle the base of the fountain, memorializing some of the most important people and events in Park Ridge History. On summer evenings Hodges Park, one of the oldest parks in Park Ridge, hosts the summer concert series presented by the Park Ridge Fine Arts Society. From Hodges Park we can see City Hall where you can find the offices of the Mayor, alderman and other city officials. City Hall also houses the police department.
From here we can also see the Bucheit Building, built by our first mayor, Dr. Albert Bucheit. Rumored to have an edge in that first election in 1910 because he could campaign in both English and German, he was replaced by the man he beat in the 1910 election—William Malone one year later.
Where the condominiums now stand was the site of the first movie theater, Ridge on Vine, which became Michael Kirby’s Ice Rink that was torn down in the 1970’s when the condos were built.
Prospect and Main
Fred I. Gillick was one of the important area developers at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1909, he built a small building at the corner of Prospect and Main and opened a real estate office which attracted the Park Ridge Bank which was organized as a state bank in 1911. The Gillick home on Euclid that once occupied the land that has become a parking lot for Summit Mall was the original home of the Park Ridge Historical Society. Today the real estate office remains at the corner of Prospect and Main under the name Koenig and Strey GMAC.
Prospect at Touhy and Northwest Highway
The Pickwick Theatre, an Art Deco movie palace and one of the best examples of the Art Deco style of architecture is one of the most handsome and imposing structures in Park Ridge with its 100-foot tower, capped by an ornamental iron lantern, and the one-of-a-kind marquee. You might recognized the marquee from the movie review show Siskel and Ebert At the Movies.
Prospect, Touhy and Northwest Highway
Between Touhy and Northwest Highway where the new uptown redevelopment featuring upscale residential and shopping stands today was the home of Park Ridge’s first village president, George Carpenter who moved into a grand home on this spot after being burned out in the Chicago Fire.
Prospect and Northwest Highway
Here at on the northwest corner of Prospect and Northwest Highway is the original library—now office and retail space—that was built in 1913 with a $7,500 grant from the Carnegie Foundation.
Northwest Highway at Elm
Alfonso Iannelli, who was an instrumental force in bringing about the modernist design movement in Chicago, ran the most successful commercial art and design firm in Chicago from his studio here at the corner of Northwest Highway and Elm. His largest sculptural commission, and one of his last, was the monumental Rock of Gibralter relief on the face of the Prudential building in Chicago.
Touhy and Summit
The Summit of Park Ridge -- originally the location of Barrows Lumberyard which housed the first bank in town, the footprint of the building was an empty space used by Hines Lumber for storage of materials from the 1940’s through 1960. This senior residence was once the Quality Inn—the second hotel in town—and served many airline crews from the new O’Hare Airport. It is currently under renovation. Check out the progress to see how the new look blends with the exciting Uptown retail/residence project.