As we get more suburbs worked into our CV, we’ll separate them out from the Community Areas, but for the time being, we will group the few we have in with these. Our first venture into Suburbia was in partnership with the BBC (British Bicycles of Chicago) in the fall of 2012. From this starting point, we will add one suburb a year to slowly grow out our footprint beyond the city.
With a population of over 50,000, Oak Park is one of the largest municipalities in the state. Like so much of the Great Lakes region, this area was made by glaciers. Specifically the Wisconsin Glacier carved out a great lake called Lake Chicagou. The entire village sits in what was once the shore of this great lake. . Oak Park sits directly on one America’s four Continental Divides, where two continental plates meet, and these created two ridges and in fact, the area was once two parts known as Ridgeland and Oak Ridge. Ridgeland marks the shore of the lake and was previously a visible ridge. The Divide is visible in a ridge that runs vertically north and south through Oak Park and separates the St. Lawrence River watershed from the Mississippi River watershed. For hundreds of years, the area was a swamp. As time passed and it began to dry out, it was used by various native American nations as a portage and at times the Fox, Potawatomi, Miami and Winnebago nations all used the area.
Today, it is the perfect suburb for architecture fans. It boasts the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings anywhere in the world, as well as a stunning array of Prairie School buildings and wonderful Victorians from other architecture luminaries such as E. E. Roberts, Charles White Jr., John Van Bergen, Tallmadge and Watson, and George Maher. The village boasts one of the most densely packed tours we have ever offered. None of it would have been possible without the help of Garth Katner of the BBC and without our inspiration from Philander Barclay, a bike repair shop owner who cycled the city taking photographs of the buildings and people of Oak Park and River Forest. First he began collecting photos in the 1880s and by 1902 started taking his own pictures, many of which are now in the collection of the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. He is the perfect muse for this venture.
Upcoming date for the Tour of Oak Park
- March 8, 2014
Past date of the Tour of Oak Park
- October 6, 2013