Home to former Secretary of State and now presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, Park Ridge, Illinois is an affluent Chicago suburb located 15 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. Other famous Park Ridgers include actor Harrison Ford of Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark fame; actresses Carrie Snodgress and Karen Black; Mad About You actor John Pankow and his brother James Pankow, the trombonist and founding member of the rock band Chicago.
In close proximity to O’Hare International Airport, major expressways, and rail transportation, Park Ridge is a part of the Chicago metropolitan area, bordering two northwestern neighborhoods of Chicago’s Far North Side (Edison Park and Norwood Park). As of the 2010 U.S. Census, this suburb had a population of around 37,480 residents.
What’s in a Name?
As its name suggests, Park Ridge lies on a ridge. According to Wikipedia.org, the soil is abundant with clay deposits, which at one time made it a brick-making center for the developing city of Chicago. Park Ridge was originally called Pennyville to honor George Penny, the businessman who owned the local brickyard along with Robert Meacham. Later it was named Brickton. Expansion came to Brickton with the coming of the railroad, increased immigration from the East and Europe, and new residents moved in during the aftermath of the great Chicago fire in 1871. The Des Plaines River divides Park Ridge from neighboring Des Plaines, which is west of Park Ridge. Chicago is south and east of Park Ridge, and Niles and unincorporated Maine Township are to its north.
It was originally settled in the 1830s with land from the Pottawatomi Indians, and it is later claimed that New Englanders settled down there. According to its official city website, www.parkridge.us, the community was incorporated as the village of Park Ridge in 1873 (and reorganized as the city of Park Ridge in 1910).
According to the Encyclopaedia of Chicago, “By 1873 the population of Brickton was 405. The brick pits had been worked out, so when the residents voted to incorporate that year, the village was renamed Park Ridge. Over the next decades, as Park Ridge established its identity as a residential community, its leaders sought to develop the look of a traditional New England town, with large homes on wide lots and a profusion of trees. Apartments were banned and industrial development discouraged.”