- Oak Park, Illinois
Oak Park Village Country United States State Illinois County Cook Municipality Village Coordinates Area 4.7 sq mi (12 km2) - land 4.7 sq mi (12 km2) Density 11,173.4 / sq mi (4,314 / km2) Timezone CST (UTC-6) - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5) Postal code 60301 to 60304 Area code 708 Wikimedia Commons: Oak Park, Illinois
Oak Park, Illinois is a suburb bordering the west side of the city of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It is the twenty-fifth largest municipality in Illinois. Oak Park has easy access to downtown Chicago (the Chicago Loop) due to public transportation such as the Chicago 'L' Blue and Green lines, CTA buses, and Metra commuter rail. The 2000 census showed that the area had a total population of 52,524. As of the 2010 census, the population had dropped by 1.2 percent to 51,878.
In 1837, Joseph Kettlestrings purchased 172 acres of land just west of Chicago. By 1850, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was constructed as far as Elgin, Illinois, and passed through what would later become Oak Park. In the 1850s the land on which Oak Park sits was part of the new Chicago suburb of Cicero, Illinois. The population of the area boomed during the 1870s, with Chicago residents resettling in Cicero following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
The Village of Oak Park was formally established in 1902, disengaging from Cicero following a referendum.
Oak Park has a history of alcohol prohibition. When the village was incorporated, no alcohol was allowed to be sold within its village limits. This law was relaxed in 1973, when restaurants and hotels were allowed to serve alcohol, and was further loosened in 2002, when select grocery stores received governmental permission to sell packaged liquor.
Oak Park's enviable location as the closest suburb to downtown Chicago, the availability of multiple modes of high-speed transportation to downtown Chicago, and its location between the Loyola Medical Center to the west and the University of Illinois at Chicago and multiple medical centers to the east attract university, legal, and health-care professionals to its aging housing stock.
Oak Park attracts architecture buffs and others to view the many Frank Lloyd Wright buildings found in the village. The largest collection of Wright-designed residential properties in the world is in Oak Park. Other attractions include Ernest Hemingway's birthplace home and his boyhood home, the Ernest Hemingway Museum, and the three Oak Park homes of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Oak Park is home to the well-regarded Oak Park and River Forest High School, which is also the public high school for the bordering village of River Forest. A comprehensive college preparatory school, Oak Park-River Forest High School has had a long history of not only turning out alumni who have made contributions in a wide variety of fields, but have been notable in their fields. Among these are Pulitizer Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway, football hall-of-famer George Trafton, McDonalds founder Ray Kroc, city planner Walter Burley Griffin, comedian Kathy Griffin, and the voice of iconic cartoon character Homer Simpson, Dan Castellaneta.
Oak Park is located immediately west of the city of Chicago. The boundary between the two municipalities is Austin Boulevard on the east side of Oak Park and North Avenue on the village's north side. Oak Park also borders Cicero along its southern border, Roosevelt Road, from Austin to Lombard; and Berwyn from Lombard to Harlem. Harlem also serves as its western border, where between Roosevelt and South Blvd, it borders Forest Park and between North Blvd and North Ave to the west it borders River Forest.
The entire village of Oak Park lies on the shore of ancient Lake Chicago, which covered most of the city of Chicago during the last Ice Age and is today called Lake Michigan. Ridgeland Avenue in eastern Oak Park marks the shoreline of the lake, and was once an actual ridge. One of North America's four continental divides runs through Oak Park. This divide, a slight rise running north-south through the village, separates the St. Lawrence River watershed from the Mississippi River watershed, and is marked by a plaque on Lake Street at Forest Avenue.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2). None of it is covered by water.
Oak Park is accessible from Chicago by both Chicago Transit Authority Green and Blue line trains as well as Metra UP-West Line trains at Oak Park station. Service within Oak Park and to other suburbs is also provided by the suburban bus system Pace. It is also one of over 20 neighborhoods served by I-GO Cars.
The Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate-290)--formerly the Congress Expressway—is the primary highway between Chicago and Oak Park. Oak Park has its own street numbering system that is similar to, but distinct from, Chicago's system, due to the fact that Oak Park is in the Chicago grid system of streets.
Although Oak Park has been fully developed for more than sixty years and possesses no nature trails, hills, prairie, bodies of water, which would also be conducive to bike paths, or forests or wooded areas, it is home to numerous bicyclists. Augusta Boulevard through the village is part of the Grand Illinois Trail; the trailhead of the Illinois Prairie Path is less than a mile from Oak Park. With several cycle clubs and groups, Oak Park is considered a bicycle-friendly community and the tree-lined streets of the community as well as its proximity to trails in nearly communities attract cyclists to Oak Park, easily accessed by the Green Line, Blue Line, or Metra. Oak Park also has a small pedicab business, owned and operated by a local who provides guided tours and a taxi service with his bicycle pedicabs or rickshaws.
As of the census of 2010, there were 51,878 people, 22,670 households, and 13,037 families residing in the village. The population density was 11,037.9 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the village was 67.7% White American, 21.7% African American, 0.2% American Indian, 4.8% Asian, 2.0% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.8% of the population. 12.7% spoke a language other than English at home. 
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the village was $74,614, and the median income for a family was $103,840. Males had a median income of $51,807 versus $40,847 for females. The per capita income for the village was $36,340. About 3.6% of families and 5.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.8% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.
In the 1960s Oak Parkers began a concerted effort to avoid the destructive racial housing practices occurring in nearby communities. Steering and block-by-block panic peddling caused rapid racial change on Chicago’s west side, including the Austin Community Area adjacent to Oak Park. Whites fled west side neighborhoods based on bogus concerns of property value losses and crime increases. Businesses fled as well. The Village of Oak Park passed a fair housing ordinance in 1968 (in the same year as the federal Fair Housing Act) to ensure equal access to housing in the community. In 1972,the Oak Park Housing Center was founded by Roberta (Bobbie) Raymond to promote integration in the community by ensuring equal access and discouraging white flight.
Ever since, Oak Park has encouraged integrated racial and ethnic diversity. The village operates a Diversity Assurance Program within its housing programs department to ensure a stable, diverse, and integrated population. Years ago, Oak Park eliminated the use of "For Sale" signs in front of houses, widely considered one of the keys of success to maintaining the high diversity. This law was declared unconstitutional, being overturned by the Supreme Court's 1977 decision in the Linmark Associates, Inc. v. Willingboro case, but is still widely observed by local realtors.
Oak Park public officials publicize the village as an integrated community, but de facto integration has been difficult to achieve. Although African-Americans live in neighborhoods throughout the village, most in the community live either in apartment buildings, notably along the Washington Blvd. corridor, or in homes on the east side of the village near the Austin neighborhood of Chicago.
Combating crime and providing safety programs in the community, Oak Park's police department is the third largest in the state. In 2011, crime had dropped 16 percent on average in Oak Park, according to data released at a community forum.
Oak Park since 1951 has been organized under the village manager form of municipal government. Coterminous with the Village of Oak Park are five additional governments each of which levy real estate taxes. These include the Oak Park Township, the high school district, the elementary school district, a library district, and a park district. Periodically, each unit of government presents to the residents tax-increase referenda or fee increases. The passing of such, along with the lack of any significant tax-generating industry, has led to Oak Park being one of the most highly taxed municipalities in the state of Illinois.
The village government comprises an elected village board who hires a village manager to conduct the day-to-day affairs of the village administration.
The public primary schools (Lincoln, Mann, Longfellow, Beye, Holmes, Whittier, Irving, and Hatch) and the middle schools, Percy Julian Middle School (formerly Nathaniel Hawthorne), and Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School (formerly Ralph Waldo Emerson), are operated by the Oak Park Elementary School District. These schools are part of elementary school District 97, which regularly adopts medium-term strategic plans.
The renaming of the two junior high schools, now middle schools, after prominent African-Americans rather than giant American literary figures was motivated in part by the desire to motivate minority students in their educational pursuits. A severe grade gap, referred to as “this intolerable and persistent inequity,”  however, remains. 
Oak Park is the home of two high schools: Oak Park and River Forest High School, the sole school in educational District 200, and Fenwick High School. Oak Park and River Forest High School is a public school which is jointly run by Oak Park and neighboring village River Forest, and Fenwick High School is a Catholic college preparatory school run by the Dominicans. Both high schools have a long history of high academic standards. Oak Park and River Forest High School bestows the Tradition of Excellence Award to distinguished alumni, including Ernest Hemingway, Ray Kroc, Dan Castellaneta, football Hall-of-Famer George Trafton, actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, astronomer Chad Trujillo, and geochemist Wally Broecker. Oak Park and River Forest High School is one of seven in Illinois with the ability to induct students into the Cum Laude Society. Fenwick's notable alumni include Heisman winner Johnny Lattner, Pulitzer winner Philip Caputo, former Sears CEO Edward Brennan, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Sun-Times general manager John Barron, Procter & Gamble CEO A. G. Lafley and notable professionals in the NBA, such as Corey Maggette, as well as NFL and NHL players.
Oak Park is home to a park district, first organized in 1912 as the Recreation Department of the Village of Oak Park. Under the direction of Josephine Blackstock and her successor Lilly Ruth Hanson, it embarked on a vigorous program of recreation for villagers. The playgrounds were named by Blackstock after famous children’s writers.
In the late 1980s the Recreation Department was dissolved and the Oak Park Park District, a separate tax-levying body, was created. It comprises thirteen parks scattered throughout the village, for a total of 80 acres (320,000 m2) of parkland, two historic houses, the Oak Park Conservatory, two outdoor pools, a gymnastics center, and a seasonal ice rink. These facilities as well as climate-controlled buildings, or "centers," at many of the parks host programs and events for all ages. The Park District also operates a dog park, where dog owners, with a paid permit, may bring their pets to play off-leash.
The Oak Park public library has its main branch in the Oak Park Avenue-Lake Street central district as well as two small branch libraries.
Arts and culture
Oak Park has an active arts community, the result of its favorable location as the closest suburb to Chicago, leading to it being the home of numerous theater, music, dance, and fine arts professionals. The fledgling arts district on Harrison, bounded by Austin Avenue to the east and Ridgeland Avenue to the west, is currently experiencing a revival with boutique galleries, shops and two restaurants providing shopping and nightlife. Oak Park is home to several professional dance and theatre companies, including Circle Theater, Oak Park Festival Theatre, and Momenta. Oak Park, with neighboring River Forest, also plays host to the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2009. Oak Park is also home to WPNA, broadcasting from the former Oak Park Arms Hotel at 1490 on the AM dial since 1951. Run by the Polish National Alliance, the station's programming serves the diverse linguistic and cultural communities in the Chicago metropolitan area (in the late-1960s WPNA had the only "underground" disc jockey in Chicago, Scorpio). There is also the Oak Park Art League (OPAL), which is a nonprofit community-based visual arts center providing classes, workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and exhibitions. Since 1921, OPAL has been providing innovative opportunities for arts engagement and cultural enrichment. Over 4,500 artists participate in OPAL’s events each year.
Oak Park has been home to numerous festivals and holiday observances. The July 4th celebration featuring fireworks draws thousands from not only Oak Park but also neighboring communities to the Oak Park-River Forest High School football stadium. A Day in Our Village held in June allows local groups to set up tables to seek members.
Frank Lloyd Wright spent the first 20 years of his 70-year career in Oak Park, building numerous homes in the community, including his own. He lived and worked in the area between 1889 and 1909. One can find Wright's earliest work here, like the Winslow House in neighboring River Forest, Illinois. There are also examples of the first prairie-style houses in Oak Park. He also designed Unity Temple, a Unitarian-Universalist church, which was built between 1905 and 1908. There were several well-known architects and artists that worked in Wright's Oak Park Studio, including Richard Bock, William Eugene Drummond, Marion Mahony Griffin, and Walter Burley Griffin. Many buildings in Oak Park were built by other Prairie School architects such as George W. Maher, John Van Bergen, and E.E. Roberts. Additionally, there are various architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries located throughout the town, including the Seward Gunderson Historic District.
Points of interest
- Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and his Unity Temple
- Ernest Hemingway homes and museum
- Edgar Rice Burroughs homes
- Oak Park Conservatory
- Oak Park-River Forest Historical Society
- Oak Park and River Forest High School
- Fenwick High School
- Joseph Aiuppa, mafia crime boss
- Lee Archambault, astronaut
- A. O. L. Atkin, mathematician
- John Avildsen, film director, Rocky, The Karate Kid
- David Axelrod, political strategist and current White House official
- Richard Bach, writer
- Bruce Barton, author and advertising pioneer
- William Eugene Blackstone, 19th century evangelical Christian and Zionist.
- Dmitri Borgmann, logologist
- Lane Brody, musician
- Wallace Broecker, geochemist
- Edgar Rice Burroughs, author, creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars
- Daws Butler, voice artist of animated characters, such as Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, etc.
- Dan Castellaneta, actor and voice of cartoon character Homer Simpson.
- Joe Corvo, NHL defenseman
- Anna Chlumsky, actress, My Girl
- Bruce Davidson, photographer
- Jon Deak, New York Philharmonic bassist and composer
- James Dewar, baker, inventor of the Twinkie—an American junk food.
- Donald Duncan, Yo-Yo and parking meter manufacturer
- Edward Egan, retired Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of the Diocese of New York [City]
- Rev. William R. Emerson, formerly rock and roll singer Billy "The Kid" Emerson
- Leslie Erganian, artist
- Carol Feeney, Olympian
- Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger of the indie rock band The Fiery Furnaces
- Johnny Galecki, actor, The Big Bang Theory, Roseanne
- Mason Gamble, actor, Dennis the Menace, Rushmore
- Sam Giancana, mafia crime boss
- Les Golden, astronomer, actor, international blackjack writer, The Golden Diagram; musician, a founder of the University of California Jazz Ensembles
- Kathy Griffin, comedian
- Gene Ha, comic book artist
- Adolph Herseth, principal trumpet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, charter member Trumpet Hall of Fame
- Ernest Hemingway, author, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea
- Leicester Hemingway, writer, younger brother of Ernest Hemingway
- Doris Humphrey, internationally acclaimed choreographer and dancer
- Steve James, documentary filmmaker
- Percy Julian, chemist
- Joseph Kerwin, astronaut
- E. E. Knight, writer
- Alex Kotlowitz, journalist and writer
- John Frush Knox, memoirist
- Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's
- Johnny Lattner, Notre Dame football player, 1953 Heisman Trophy winner
- Thomas Lennon, actor
- Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics
- Ludacris, rapper
- Charles MacArthur, journalist and filmwriter
- Corey Maggette, basketball player
- John Mahoney, actor, Frasier co-star
- Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, actress, Scarface, The Color of Money
- Edith Nash, writer
- Lois Nettleton, actress
- George Robert "Bob" Newhart, comedian and actor, The Bob Newhart Show
- Agnes Newton Keith, writer
- Caroline Myss, author
- Marc Okubo, musician
- Martin Pearlman, classical musician and composer
- Landon Pigg, singer/songwriter
- Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois
- Carl Rogers, psychologist, author and researcher
- Peter Sagal, host of NPR's "Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!"
- George Schaefer, television director, most honored in television history
- Bruce Schneier, cryptographer
- Richard Sears, businessman
- Mike Shanahan, NFL head coach, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins
- Carol Shields, author
- Charles Simic, Poet Laureate of the United States
- John C. Slater, American pioneer in quantum theory
- Marv Staehle, major league baseball 2nd baseman, 1964–1971
- Tony Spilotro, alleged mafia enforcer
- Hannah Storm, sports journalist, ESPN
- John Sturges, filmmaker, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape
- Judy Tenuta, comedian
- Dorothy Thompson, journalist
- Joe Tinker, Baseball Hall of Fame member
- George Trafton, Football Hall of Fame member
- Chad Trujillo, astronomer
- Evan Turner, basketball player
- Norm Van Lier, professional basketball player (Chicago Bulls) and sports radio personality
- Marjorie Vincent, 1991 Miss America
- Edward Wagenknecht, author and educator
- Robert Wahl, two-time All-American and former president of Valmont Industries
- Chris Ware, cartoonist
- Frank Lloyd Wright, architect and writer
- Felix Wurman, classical musician
- Mary Agnes Yerkes, American Impressionist painter
- Bob Zuppke, head football coach, University of Illinois
- Milo Smith Hascall, Union general in the Civil War
- Betty White, actress, comedian
- ^ Oak Park village history
- ^ Galena & Chicago Union Railroad - Chicago Public Library, timeline
- ^ ABC7 Chicago, School Days: Oak Park River Forest High School
- ^ http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1754885.html
- ^ http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ACSSAFFFacts?_event=Search&geo_id=16000US1753481&_geoContext=01000US%7C04000US17%7C16000US1753481&_street=&_county=oak+park&_cityTown=oak+park&_state=04000US17&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=geoSelect&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=160&_submenuId=factsheet_1&ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_SAFF&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null®=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry=
- ^ www.liveinoakpark.com/contact-us-inforequest/about-2/history/
- ^ http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/10-18-2011/Crime_dropped_everywhere_in_Oak_Park
- ^ "Post Office Location - OAK PARK SOUTH." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on April 17, 2009.
- ^ "Post Office Location - OAK PARK." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on April 17, 2009.
- ^ Oak Park Elementary School Distract 97, Strategic Planning, August 07 Plan
- ^ Oak Park African American Achievement Study Team (2003), The Learning Community Performance Gap,” May, 2003, p. 18
- ^ http://www.op97.k12.il.us/mcrc/NCEBC_2009_Addressing_the_Achievement_Gap.pdf Accessed 2011-07-01
- ^ http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/12-19-2006/Here's_what_District_97_is_doing_about_'the_gap' Accessed 2011-07-01
- ^ Oak Park Art League
- Village of Oak Park website
- Visit Oak Park - Official Tourism Site for Oak Park and Western Cook County Illinois
- Park District of Oak Park
- Historical Society of Oak Park website
- Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum website
- Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
- Oak Park - River Forest Chamber of Commerce
- Oak Park Public Library
- Oak Park Art League Gallery
- Oak Park Arms - Was the Oak Park Arms Hotel, now a local retirement community
- OakPark.com - Website of Wednesday Journal - The local newspaper for Oak Park and River Forest
Chicago metropolitan area Major city Cities
(over 30,000 in 2010)Aurora, Illinois · Berwyn, Illinois · Calumet City, Illinois · Chicago Heights, Illinois · Crystal Lake, Illinois · DeKalb, Illinois · Des Plaines, Illinois · Elgin, Illinois · Elmhurst, Illinois · Evanston, Illinois · Gary, Indiana · Hammond, Indiana · Joliet, Illinois · Kenosha, Wisconsin · Naperville, Illinois · North Chicago, Illinois · Park Ridge, Illinois · Portage, Indiana · St. Charles, Illinois · Valparaiso, Indiana · Waukegan, Illinois · Wheaton, Illinois
Towns and villages
(over 30,000 in 2010)Addison, Illinois · Algonquin, Illinois · Arlington Heights, Illinois · Bartlett, Illinois · Bolingbrook, Illinois · Buffalo Grove, Illinois · Carol Stream, Illinois · Carpentersville, Illinois · Cicero, Illinois · Downers Grove, Illinois · Elk Grove Village, Illinois · Glendale Heights, Illinois · Glenview, Illinois · Gurnee, Illinois · Hanover Park, Illinois · Hoffman Estates, Illinois · Lombard, Illinois · Merrillville, Indiana · Mount Prospect, Illinois · Mundelein, Illinois · Northbrook, Illinois · Oak Lawn, Illinois · Oak Park, Illinois · Orland Park, Illinois · Oswego, Illinois · Palatine, Illinois · Plainfield, Illinois · Romeoville, Illinois · Schaumburg, Illinois · Skokie, Illinois · Streamwood, Illinois · Tinley Park, Illinois · Wheeling, Illinois · Woodridge, Illinois
CountiesCook County, Illinois · DeKalb County, Illinois · DuPage County, Illinois · Grundy County, Illinois · Jasper County, Indiana · Kane County, Illinois · Kendall County, Illinois · Kenosha County, Wisconsin · Lake County, Illinois · Lake County, Indiana · McHenry County, Illinois · Newton County, Indiana · Porter County, Indiana · Will County, Illinois Regions Sub-regions State of Illinois Topics Regions
- American Bottom
- Central Illinois
- Champaign–Urbana metropolitan area
- Chicago metropolitan area
- Driftless Area
- Fox Valley
- Illinois–Indiana–Kentucky Tri-State Area
- Metro East
- Mississippi Alluvial Plain
- North Shore
- Northern Illinois
- Northwestern Illinois
- Peoria metropolitan area
- Quad Cities
- River Bend
- Rockford metropolitan area
- Southern Illinois
- Wabash Valley
towns and villages
- Alton/Granite City/Edwardsville
- Arlington Heights/Palatine
- Bartlett/Hanover Park/Streamwood
- Belleville/East St. Louis/Collinsville/O'Fallon
- Buffalo Grove/Wheeling
- Calumet City
- Carol Stream/Glendale Heights
- Chicago Heights
- Crystal Lake/Algonquin
- Des Plaines/Mount Prospect/Park Ridge
- Downers Grove/Woodridge
- Moline/East Moline/Rock Island
- Mount Vernon
- Oak Lawn
- Oak Park
- Orland Park/Tinley Park
- Peoria/Pekin/East Peoria/Morton
- Rockford/Belvidere/Machesney Park/Loves Park
- St. Charles
- Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates/Elk Grove Village
- Sterling/Rock Falls
- Waukegan/North Chicago/Gurnee
- Jo Daviess
- Rock Island
- St. Clair
Elmwood Park, Illinois River Forest, Illinois Austin, Chicago Oak Park, Illinois Forest Park, Illinois Berwyn, Illinois Cicero, Illinois
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.