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Evanston

Evanston, Illinois

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  Summary  

Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan. The boundaries of the city of Evanston are coterminous with those of Evanston Township – although school districts 65 and 202 take in a small portion of eastern Skokie. Evanston is the home of Northwestern University.

  History  

Prior to the 1830s, the area now occupied by Evanston was mainly uninhabited, consisting largely of wetlands and swampy forest. However, Potawatomi Indians used trails along higher-lying prehistoric ridges that ran in a general north-south direction through the area, and had at least some semi-permanent settlements along the trails.

French explorers referred to the general area as "Grosse Pointe" after a point of land jutting into Lake Michigan about north of the mouth of the Chicago River. After the first non-native Americans settled in the area in 1836, the names "Grosse Point Territory" and "Gross Point voting district" were used through the 1830s and 1840s, although the territory had no defined boundaries. The area remained only sparsely settled, supporting some farming and lumber activity on some of the higher ground, as well as a number of taverns or "hotels" along the ridge roads.

In 1850, a township called Ridgeville was organized, extending from Graceland Cemetery in Chicago to the southern edge of the Ouilmette Reservation, along what is now Central Street, and from Lake Michigan to Western Avenue in Chicago. The 1850 census shows a few hundred settlers in this township, and a post office with the name of Ridgeville was established at one of the taverns. However, no municipality yet existed.

In 1851, a group of Methodist business leaders founded Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute. They chose a bluffed and wooded site along the lake as Northwestern's home, purchasing several hundred acres of land from Dr. John Foster, a Chicago farm owner. In 1854, the founders of Northwestern submitted to the county judge their plans for a city to be named Evanston after John Evans, one of their leaders. In 1857, the request was granted. The township of Evanston was split off from Ridgeville Township; at approximately the same time, that portion of Ridgeville south of Devon Avenue was organized as Lake View Township.

Evanston was formally incorporated as a town on December 29, 1863, but declined in 1869 to become a city despite the Illinois legislature passing a bill for that purpose. Evanston expanded after the Civil War with the annexation of the village of North Evanston. Finally, in early 1892, following the annexation of the Village of South Evanston, voters elected to organize as a city. The 1892 boundaries are largely those that exist today.

During the 1960s, Northwestern University changed the city's shoreline by adding a 74-acre (300,000 m²) lakefill.

In 1939, Evanston hosted the first NCAA basketball championship final at Northwestern University's Patten Gymnasium.[http://www.ncaa.com/basketball-mens/article.aspx?id=92520]

In August 1954, Evanston hosted the second assembly of the World Council of Churches, still the only WCC assembly to have been held in the United States. President Dwight Eisenhower welcomed the delegates and Dag Hammarskjöld, secretary-general of the United Nations, delivered an important address entitled "An instrument of faith."

Today, the city is home to Northwestern University and other educational institutions as well as headquarters of Alpha Phi International women's fraternity, Rotary International, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the National Lekotek Center, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, the Sigma Chi Fraternity and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

Evanston is the birthplace of Tinkertoys, and Evanston, along with Ithaca, New York, Two Rivers, Wisconsin and Plainfield, Illinois also lays claim to having originated the ice cream sundae.

Evanston was a dry community from 1858 until 1972, when the City Council voted to allow restaurants and hotels to serve liquor on their premises. In 1984, the Council voted to allow retail liquor outlets within the city limits.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Evanston, Illinois", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.