I've had a bit of a good laugh since beginning to read about this neighbourhood and its history. I've also found a few folks to ask questions about it's history and how people feel about living here. I really hadn't thought much about the layers of events behind the building of this suburb or that it was was considered a township outside Chicago where train lines took people right into the old Chicago.
Where I'm typing from right now is on a road that was a major thouroughfare for Native Americans. My in-Laws live a few minutes away from us in a neighbourhood with a slightly different feeling. Their neighbourhood has the feeling of a small town, whereas right here feels more like a strip mall, as it has more developed roads. The actual house we are staying in is situated ina very sweet area set off from two fairly busy roads.
Here is something about the geography of Edison Park, around my in-Laws, which, like I was saying they are a five minute drive away...
A series of little streams (later funneled into underground culverts) flowed into the local rivers, the Chicago River's North Branch to the east and the Des Plaines River to the west. The main stands of timber were along the river corridors. This was a local continental divide, with the Chicago River flowing then into Lake Michigan, which connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Great Lakes, and the Des Plaines River feeding into the Illinois River and the Mississippi River to reach the Gulf of Mexico.
It is the Des Plains River which has been flooding so many neighbourhoods around here for the past two weeks of crazy weather.
Here at Grandma's which is called Norwood Park I found this webpage entry:
The Village of Norwood Park was designed to be a park like residential suburb with large lots, wide streets and elegant single family homes. One unusual feature is its curvilinear street pattern. A 1907 real estate sales brochure described Norwood Park as a place with "proper living conditions, fresh air and sunshine, good surroundings, a healthy religious activity,...[and], no saloons." By the 1920s, Norwood Park was a mature residential community. As the community evolved, the early Victorian homes were joined by tudor, bungalow and ranch style homes. Downtown Norwood Park is centered at Northwest Highway and Raven Street near the recently restored C&NW (now Union Pacific R.R.) train station. Additional retail and commercial activities are located on Higgins Road, Harlem and Milwaukee Avenues.
Norwood Park remains a quaint, picturesque community and lives up to the dreams of those early settlers who considered it an "ideal suburb." Since 1980, the Norwood Park Historical Society has been seeking landmark designation for a district and individual buildings in the community. The City of Chicago identified a large historic district in 1986. The Noble Seymour Crippen House at 5622-24 N. Newark Avenue was designated a City of Chicago Historical Landmark on May 11, 1988; the John Wingert House at 6231 N. Canfield was designated on July 31, 1990. The Noble-Seymour-Crippen House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 11, 2000; the Norwood Park train station was also listed, in 2001.
...shows what I know huh? In a million years I didn't see this neighbourhood in this manner...I feel like such a dolt. It's a difficult thing to imagine what the dreams of other people might be...for me, I am liek a creature from another planet wondering why on earth people would want to cut grass...or walk so far to go get a milk on a hot day. I think some of this has to do with time. In the suburbs the use of time is slightly managed differently than those folks who live in smaller walking zones like urban cores. Here it's not a big deal for peopel to drive out to big box stores or malls just to get a loaf of bread. Of course people also have room for freezers where they can buy several loaves of bread and freeze them so they don't have to run errands daily if they choose not to.
This neighbourhood is a blue collar neighbourhood with mostly firefighters, police and city service workers residing.
Living in an urban core, residents often pick up fresh produce and food on their way home from work.
In the United States it is a massive cultural practice to eat out a few nights a week. Canadians don't eat out as much as here.
Did I mention that in one week of travel across Canada we spent more money than we did ina month driving across the U.S. Food, take out, rerstaurants and most services are massively less expensive in the States. Hotel rooms were four times the cost in Canada than down here. Restaurants and bars have so many deals here that a couple and even a family can budget eating out and take out much more easily than in Canada. I also think there is an attitude difference about eating out. In Canada it tends to be more of a "special occassion" or effort to eat out, and part of that is likely the cost, but I think it's also a difference in how we spend our free time. It's a little bit fancy or decadent for many Canadians to eat out...especially more than twice a week. (I am unusual in this as when I was a single parent and working in the service industry as a bartender...I tended to have a take-out meal once a week, and eat out about three or four times a week, and then cook/prepare the other meals)
English farmers settled in the area in the 1830s. Over the years Germans became the major ethnic group, along with substantial numbers of Poles and Scandinavians. In 1853 the Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad, eventually the Chicago & North Western Railway, installed a rail line serving the area. For several months there was only one passenger, until other residents realized the advantages of railway travel to Chicago.
In 1868 the Norwood Land and Building Association created its curvilinear subdivision. Construction began on the Norwood Park Hotel and an artificial lake in hopes that the area would attract Chicagoans seeking a resort atmosphere. Although the hotel attracted local residents for entertainment purposes, it never drew enough customers to be a success.
Following incorporation in 1874, the village prohibited the sale of liquor. The village's name followed Henry Ward Beecher's novel, Norwood: Or, Village Life in New England. The word “Park” was added after it was discovered that another post office in the state had the name of Norwood.
1) history Norwood Park
2) Wiki page on this neighbourhood and enclyclopedia