WBEZ | Park Ridge http://www.wbez.org/tags/park-ridge Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Park Ridge, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/park-ridge-past-and-present-106638 <p><p>Park Ridge is one of Chicago&rsquo;s older, inner suburbs, located about 15 miles northwest of the Loop. The name is descriptive of its park-like setting along a gentle ridge. Local legend to the contrary, it does not contain the highest point in Cook County.</p><p>The area that became Park Ridge was originally part of a Potawatomi settlement. After the 1833 treaty, people from New England and upstate New York began moving in. They were mostly farmers. Reflecting their Yankee background, they called the district Maine Township.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A--Prospect.JPG" title="Welcome to Park Ridge!" /></div></div></div><p>George Penny was a driving force in the early years. When the first railroad came through in 1854 he opened brickworks near the line, and then arranged to have trains stop by building his own station. The community was informally known as Pennyville, until Penny himself suggested it be called Brickton.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>By 1874 the brick pits had been worked out. The residents voted to incorporate that year, naming the new village Park Ridge. Over the next decades the community took on the look of a traditional New England town, with large homes on wide lots and plenty of trees. Apartments were banned and industry discouraged.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A--z--Park%20Ridge%20Map.jpg" title="" /></div><p>The 1910 census counted 2,009 people in Park Ridge. Anticipating annexation pressure from Chicago, the village reorganized as the City of Park Ridge in 1910. The population continued to grow steadily, reaching 10,417 in 1930. With its pleasant surroundings and convenient Chicago &amp; North Western rail service, Park Ridge had found its niche as a commuter suburb.</p><p>The depression came, and building stopped. During the early 1940s and World War II, some new housing was constructed for war-industry workers. However, away from the main commuter station, much of Park Ridge was still open land.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A--After School 01.JPG" title="Picking up the kids after school" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">A new boom began with the war&rsquo;s end in 1945. Americans were moving to the suburbs. They were looking for the good life away from the crowded central city. They wanted quality schools and their own ranch homes. Park Ridge satisfied all these desires. The population rose to 16.602 in 1950. Twenty years later it was 42,466.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And once again, location was important to the growth of Park Ridge. In 1962 nearby O&rsquo;Hare became Chicago&rsquo;s chief airport. Meanwhile, the metropolitan network of express highways was under construction. The suburb was at a prime spot, near the junction of two major tollways and the Northwest (Kennedy) Expressway.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A--Athletic and Academic.JPG" title="Maine South High School--celebrating athletic and academic excellence" /></div></div></div></div><p>The sleepy days were over. With the expanding population and demand for services, Park Ridge moved to increase its tax base by encouraging office-building. A small number of apartments and condominiums were allowed. However, a proposal by Marshall Field&rsquo;s to build a store in Uptown was rejected, and commercial development remains limited.</p><p>New residential construction has continued, even though the community has reached maturity. Beginning in the 1980s speculators started buying small houses, tearing them down, and replacing them with larger dwellings. The &ldquo;McMansions&rdquo; caused some controversy. Still, it&rsquo;s acknowledged that they&rsquo;ve helped keep general property values high.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A--Two%20Eras.JPG" title="Two eras of Park Ridge houses" /></div></div><p>Park Ridge retains a feel of uncluttered openness. The Cook County forest preserves along the Des Plaines River are just to the west. And the suburb even has a pair of its own man-made lakes.</p><p>If Park Ridge has a signature building, it&rsquo;s probably the Pickwick Theatre. The landmark structure has been in place at the summit of Uptown since 1929, and was used in the credits of the Siskel-Ebert TV show &ldquo;At the Movies.&rdquo; Another art-deco gem from the same era is Maine East High School. Hillary Rodham Clinton&rsquo;s girlhood home still stands on Wisner Avenue, a few blocks from the house where actor Harrison Ford grew up.</p><p>The latest census reported that Park Ridge has a population of 37,480. About 93 percent of the residents are identified as white, with the remainder mostly Asian or Hispanic.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A--Murphy Lake.JPG" title="Park Ridge's own Murphy Lake" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/park-ridge-past-and-present-106638 Saving a New Deal mural http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/saving-new-deal-mural-105320 <p><p>The New Deal is the collective name given to federal programs launched to fight the Great Depression of the 1930s. One of these was the Treasury Relief Arts Project (TRAP). The idea was to have established artists decorate existing public buildings.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-13--George%20Melville%20Smith.jpg" style="width: 223px; height: 250px; float: right;" title="George Melville Smith (Frick Art Collection)" />George Melville Smith was an artist commissioned through TRAP. He painted murals in a number of buildings around the Chicago area, including the Schubert Elementary School in the city, and the post offices in Elmhurst and in Crown Point, Indiana.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1940 Smith completed &ldquo;Indians Cede the Land&rdquo; at the Park Ridge post office. The mural measured 6x20 feet. Depicted was an idealized scene of a Native chief and an army officer shaking hands as settlers move into a new territory. The artist received $2,000 for his work.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Indians&quot; hung in place for thirty years. In 1970 the Park Ridge post office moved to larger quarters, and the building became headquarters for the local school district. The new tenants planned extensive redecoration. They had no use for the mural.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Enter Paul Carlson, a history teacher at Maine South High School. He found out that the New Deal mural was going to be thrown away. Along with a few students he removed the painting from the wall and rolled it up. He stored it in his home.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Carlson had saved a historic piece of artwork from destruction. But he wasn&rsquo;t a conservator. The mural had already gone through various indignities during its public display. Now, over the long years in storage, &ldquo;Indians&rdquo; gradually deteriorated.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Paul Carlson died in 2008. After his death, the Carlson family presented the mural to the Park Ridge Public Library. I&rsquo;m on the library&rsquo;s Board of Trustees.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-13--Post%20Office%20Mural.jpg" title="'Indians Cede the Land' by Smith (Park Ridge Mural Restoration Committee)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">We were happy to receive the mural. The big question was whether it could be restored. After shopping around, we found out that restoration was possible. The cost would be about $40,000&mdash;which we couldn&rsquo;t afford.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Three of our trustees formed an independent committee to solicit donations from the public. The committee also received a grant from the Park Ridge Historical Society. Last year the fund-raising goal was reached. Work began on bringing the mural back to life.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now restoration is complete. On February 23, George Melville Smith&rsquo;s &ldquo;Indians Cede the Land&rdquo; goes on permanent display at the Park Ridge Public Library, 20 South Prospect Avenue in Park Ridge. Once again, public art will be available to the public.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/saving-new-deal-mural-105320 Hillary's house http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/hillarys-house-103582 <p><p>I live in Park Ridge, Ill.&nbsp;When visitors&nbsp;want to see the local sights, I&rsquo;m usually asked to point out the house where Hillary Rodham Clinton grew up.&nbsp;You can easily find it yourself, at 235 North Wisner Street.</p><p>A number of sources &ndash; including the National Portrait Gallery &ndash; say that Hillary is a Park Ridge native.&nbsp;She was actually born in Chicago in 1947 and lived in the Edgewater neighborhood until she was three years old.&nbsp;The Rodham family then moved to Park Ridge.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-08--Hillary's House.JPG" title=" The Rodham Home--235 N. Wisner St., Park Ridge" /></div></div><p>Her parents were Hugh Rodham and the former Dorothy Howell.&nbsp;Hugh was in the textile business, Dorothy was a homemaker.&nbsp;Hillary was their first child.&nbsp;She was later joined by two brothers.&nbsp;It was the typical suburban, upper-middle-class household of the baby boom years.</p><p>If you had to put her in a category, Hillary would be The Smart Girl.&nbsp;She always ranked near the top of her class, and teachers liked her.&nbsp;Her extra-curriculars included student council and the school paper.&nbsp;She was also politically active &ndash; but at this&nbsp;stage of her life, she was a conservative Republican.</p><p>When Hillary started high school in 1961, all Park Ridge &ldquo;publics&rdquo; went to Maine Township High School.&nbsp;By the time she reached senior year, the baby boom was really booming, so the district opened Maine South.&nbsp;Hillary transferred to the new school and graduated there in 1965.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-08--Hillary%20Rodham.jpg" style="float: right; height: 324px; width: 275px;" title="High school student Hillary Rodham (author's collection)" /></div><p>(Both Park Ridge high schools consider Hillary an alumna.&nbsp;Maine South claims the privilege because of her graduation.&nbsp;Her original school &ndash; now called Maine East &ndash; counters by pointing out that they had her for three years, not just one.)</p><p>Hillary left Park Ridge to attend Wellesley College.&nbsp;At graduation four years later, the onetime Goldwater Girl was a Democrat.&nbsp;Hillary then went to Yale Law School and met Bill Clinton.&nbsp;The rest is history &ndash; and for once, that phrase in not a cliché.</p><p>Meanwhile, back in Park Ridge, the Rodham family was still living on Wisner Street. They sold the house in 1987 and moved to Arkansas, to be closer to Hillary, Chelsea and Bill. Hugh Rodham died in 1993.&nbsp;Dorothy Howell Rodham died last year.</p><p>Today you will still meet people in Park Ridge who remember the Rodham family and their famous daughter.&nbsp;Hillary herself has kept in touch with a local circle of friends.&nbsp;Some of them were active in her 2008 presidential campaign.</p><p>The City of Park Ridge has designated the intersection of Wisner and Elm as Rodham Corner. The house itself is privately owned.</p></p> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/hillarys-house-103582 Park Ridge recognized for historic preservation http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/park-ridge-recognized-historic-preservation-99807 <p><p>The suburban Chicago city of Park Ridge has been officially recognized for its active role in preserving its history.</p><p>The city is the 75th local government in Illinois certified for historic preservation efforts. The designation comes from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the National Park Service.</p><p>A local government must have a historic preservation ordinance to be certified. It also must establish a preservation review commission, establish a local survey program to identify historic resources and get the public involved.</p><p>The Park Ridge Historic Preservation Commission has recognized seven local landmarks, including the Pickwick Theater Building. The commission also created an honor roll for 100-year-old homes in the community and started a photo inventory of significant historic structures.</p><p>The commission holds an annual poster contest for local children.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 08:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/park-ridge-recognized-historic-preservation-99807 North suburbs call ComEd to account for power outages http://www.wbez.org/story/north-suburbs-call-comed-account-power-outages-89232 <p><p>Officials in Chicago’s northern suburbs are calling power provider ComEd to account for frequent and long-lasting blackouts. A storm last Monday left many customers without electricity, some for the entire week.</p><div><div>In Evanston, strong winds toppled dozens of trees, taking down lines to more than 12,000 thousand customers. But Evanston Alderman Jane Grover says that during other outages this summer, electricity was unavailable even when the lines remained up.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>“Evanston is still very much concerned about the ComEd infrastructure issues,” said Grover, ”as well as their response time for restoration of power, and their ability to pump information out into the community about preparing for a longer outage.”</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Grover and her fellow aldermen will grill ComEd representatives at a city council meeting Monday night. The power company faced Park Ridge officials and residents at a meeting last Thursday. Highland Park has invited the company to answer questions at its July 25 council meeting.</div></div></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/north-suburbs-call-comed-account-power-outages-89232