12 miles north of Chicago’s Loop sits our northern neighbor, Evanston, IL. Evanston is surrounded by Chicago on the south, Lake Michigan on the east, Wilmette on the north and Skokie on the west, and is the first in a series of northern Chicago suburbs known as the North Shore communities. Like much of the north side of Chicago, the area was once the land of the Pottawatomie Nation and before them, other indigenous people that used the area mainly as a portage and to traverse to steadier, harder, dryer ground than the marshy wetlands and swamp forests and savannahs that occupied this section of the Great Lakes region. The first reference to the area now known as Evanston in more modern history is as the area of Gross Pointe, referring to a point jutting out into Lake Michigan and the area around it. After a time, the area became a township called Ridgeville with sections of Chicago that are present day West Ridge, Rogers Park and Edgewater.
Evanston is home to Northwestern University, which ranks with the best universities in the nation, founded in 1851 a year after the organization of the town of Ridgeville by a group of Methodist business leaders, who bought several hundred acres of land from local farmer, Dr. John Foster. It was the leaders of Northwestern University who would eventually lead Evanston to break off from Ridgeville to form their own city of Evanston, named after one of the University’s founders, John Evans. As befitting a town derived from Methodist founders, the city of Evanston was dry from its founding, all the way until 1972, when they finally allowed restaurants to serve liquor and in 1984, when they also allowed bars and retail liquor sales.
Today, Evanston is a thriving city with a population of over 75,000. It maintains a wide variety of build styles and architecture and an enduring and beautiful built landscape. From the mansions to the University, and from places of worship to places of business, Evanston is a city with a marvelous architectural history, and a great place to ride around. Come join us for a chance to learn about the southernmost entry in the North Shore communities, Evanston, IL.
Noyes Cultural Arts Center
927 Noyes Street
Evanston, IL 60201
Past Tours of Evanston