Oak Park Living
Oak Park, an area once covered by oak trees, sits on the shore of the ancient, glacial "Lake Chicago." The long stretch of sand that formed between Lake Chicago and the Des Plaines Bay has been named the "Oak Park Spit." This ridge extends across Ridgeland and North Avenues to Madison and Des Plaines where it has been flattened by new development. The high point reaches Oak Park Avenue and Ontario Street.
Upon entering the neighborhoods of Oak Park, it is apparent that there is a high community spirit that unites people of all different backgrounds. In fact, the village authorized a policy for maintaining diversity in 1973. Residents can be found shopping at the Farmers' Market together, watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, shoveling each other’s driveways after snowstorms, swimming at Ridgeland Commons and Rehm Park pools, playing games in the streets and grilling burgers at the more than 300 block parties that take place each summer. The village homes also contribute a distinct sense of character to their environment.
New residents are welcomed to the community each year in June by the “Day in Our Village” festival. The festival provides an opportunity for new and existing residents to discover the diversity and variety of civic, cultural, social service, business, educational and religious organizations/groups in the Village. The event is held at Scoville Park and features more than 100 activity and information booths from Oak Park entities to help residents get acquainted, while local restaurants sell food nearby. In addition, opportunities to enjoy games and swimming are offered in Rehm Park.
The Oak Park Farmers' Market is a unique event that offers high quality, locally grown produce in a fun and friendly atmosphere. Shoppers are also entertained by live bluegrass music. The market is held at Pilgrim Church, and offers fresh warm doughnuts, juice and coffee and an enchanting view of the lush landscapes surrounding the area.
One of the Oak Park area’s biggest draws is the quick commute to the Chicago Loop. The Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) provides easy access to Austin and Harlem avenues. It is a simple 20-minute drive to the Loop and only 35 minutes to both the Midway and O'Hare airports. The village is also accommodated by a rail system that gets residents to the Loop in just 15 minutes. Bus service is also available.
Oak Park Schools
The children of Oak Park attend District 97 elementary schools. High schools in District 200 provide education for teenagers in the community. Oak Park also provides a wide array of daycare centers, pre-schools, and private elementary and middle schools to choose from. Oak Park schools have curricula that prepare children for life. The Oak Park community provides residents with many excellent primary schools -- a vigorous public school system, an extensive Catholic school system, two Montessori schools and Christian and Lutheran schools. Oak Park and River Forest have three outstanding high schools, offering excellent college preparatory programs, as well as a variety of programs to meet the needs of all the community. There are two four-year colleges located within a 1/2-mile and four universities within eight miles of Oak Park.
Oak Park residents participate in more than 40 different organizations, service clubs and lifestyle groups. There are a myriad of opportunities to learn new skills in classes held days, nights and weekends for every age. Many of the activities take place in and around the 22 parks and recreational centers operated by the park district, as well as in schools, the YMCA and fitness centers.
The village also houses a number of performing, visual, craft and literary arts. With the Harrison Street Art District, the many galleries on Lake and Marion streets, a variety of musical performance venues, numerous artists, artisans, graphic artists, musicians, writers and indigenous theatre groups, the question is not what to do, but how to find the time to do it all.
Historic Oak Park
Oak Park is internationally known for its architectural heritage, with styles ranging from Victorian to Prairie. It is also noted for housing the most Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings in the world. The village has two nationally recognized historic districts -- the Ridgeland / Oak Park Historic District and the Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie School of Architecture Historic District. Each area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, nine of Oak Parks’ buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.
Originally occupied by the Pottowatomie, Sac and Fox Indians, Oak Park was settled by an English family in 1835. By 1848, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was the first train to run west of Chicago bringing more and more people to the area. The village was named Oak Park because this was the name of the post office and the name Oak Ridge was already taken. Soon after the railway station shared the name as well. The area was incorporated in 1902.
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