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Rogers Park History

Howard Theatre (c.1910)
Rogers Park is one of the 77 Chicago community areas on the far north side of Chicago, Illinois and is also the name of theChicago neighborhood that constitutes most of the community area.
 Rogers Park is located nine miles north of the Cook County Courthouse in downtown Chicago. It is bounded by the city of Evanston along Juneway Terrace and Howard Street to the north, Ridge Boulevard to the west, Devon Avenue and the Edgewater neighborhood to the south, and Lake Michigan to the east. The neighborhood just to the west, West Ridge, was part of Rogers Park until the 1890s.

Native American roots

The Rogers Park area was developed on what once was the convergence of two Native American trails, now known as Rogers Avenue and Ridge Boulevard, predating modern metropolitan Chicago. The Pottawatomi and various other regional tribes often settled in Rogers Park from season to season. The name of Indian Boundary Park west of Rogers Park reflects this history as does Pottawattomie Park near Clark Street and Rogers Avenue.

Settlers

One of the original settlers (1838) of the area was Phillip Rogers, who operated a toll gate beside his home at what is now Ridge and Lunt Avenues and often traded and worked with the local tribes. During the period 1844 to 1850 arriving settlers started farms along a ridge in the western portion of Rogers Park, avoiding the often flooded lowlands to the east. In 1870 Rogers' son-in-law, Patrick I. Touhy, sold 100 acres to land speculators. With an additional purchase of 125 acres in 1873 these speculators together with Touhy formed the Rogers Park Building and Land Company. Also in 1873, the Chicago & Northwestern Railway completed a service line through the area and constructed a station at Greenleaf Ave. The population was 200 and a Post Office was opened in July 1873. Five years later, the voters agree to incorporate as a village under the name of Rogers Park.

Becoming part of Chicago

On April 29, 1878 Rogers Park was incorporated as a village of Illinois governed by six trustees. In 1885, the Chicago, Evanston & Lake Superior Railroad, a predecessor of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, built a combination freight and commuter line through eastern Rogers Park on the present "L" right-of-way with a stop at Morse Avenue. By 1893, the population was 3500, the North Shore Electric Railroad expanded its service into the area, and the village of Rogers Park was annexed to Chicago. The Rogers Park Women's Club opened the first library in 1894.

Neighborhood Growth

By 1904 the population had grown to 7,500. The NorthWestern elevated line was extended from Wilson (4600N) to Howard Street (7600N). The Jesuits opened Loyola University in 1909. Successive generations brought about vast cultural changes to the former village. By 1930 the population was 57,094 making Rogers Park one of Chicago's most densely populated areas. Chicagoans began to move to new planned communities in the north suburbs by the 1930s, which ushered in the migration of German, English, Irish, and Jewish families to Rogers Park. With the devastation in Europe following World War II, many additional immigrants found their way to Chicago and the Rogers Park neighborhood. A growing and vibrant Hispanic community has grown along Clark Street since 2000.
For decades, most of the neighborhood has been within the 49th Ward of the city of Chicago (the terms are sometimes used interchangeably), but that was a misconception. The ward covered much of Edgewater and went as far south as Hollywood in the 1960s, while the 50th Ward extended east to Ashland Avenue (in some areas as late as 1990). But, because of redistricting, a part of Rogers Park is now within the 40th Ward, and the 49th Ward now encompasses part of West Rogers Park.

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