Incorporated in 1902, this 4.5 square mile village is nestled next to the Austin area of the west side of Chicago. To the south is Berwyn, a predominantly white blue collar area, to the east is Forest Park, and River Forest (farther north). The North side of the village is also bordered by Chicago. Other nearby suburbs include Cicero, North Riverside, Elmwood Park and Maywood.

Here are the stats:

From a sociological perspective, the last statistic is the essence of Oak Park. Surrounded by segregated areas (Berwyn (white), West Side (African American), Forest Park and River Forest (white), Cicero (Latino)), Oak Park was one of the first integrated communities. Scientist Percy Julian broke the color barrier in the early 50's and had his home firebombed twice. The community responded with support, though the civil rights movement had barely begun.

As more minorities moved in, more whites moved out - this was the beginning of the "White Flight" movement. The Austin area of Chicago complete with a golf course and huge old Victorian houses, burned with the rest of the west side in the 68 Democratic convention riots. The white folk were gone and the old houses and buildings were boarded up. Still not rebuilt except for the area around the United Center where the 96 convention took place.

White property owners afraid that the value of their homes would deflate with the introduction of minorities in their neighborhoods sold their homes at less than market value. Some stayed. Liberal minded young couples recovering from the Vietnam War, starting families, and needing homes with a good school system were able to find them in Oak Park.

Ernest Hemingway said of his hometown, "Wide lawns and narrow minds". We have some mansions here, we also have Frank Lloyd Wright homes. People familiar with these perspectives assume that Oak Park is a "rich" suburb. From a socio-economic standpoint it was, and has become a yuppie haven. Houses are expensive, rent is high, but many people bought their homes here a quarter of a century ago or longer. My parents were never rich. The mortgage was just paid off this year- and their property taxes were twice as much.

People like to live here, we have two "L" lines through the village and easy automobile access to downtown. Every street is lined with trees, people are friendly... What we have to remember is the sacrifice, the progressive ideas, the vision of individuals for their community that made Oak Park a yuppie haven.

It isn't all beautiful either. Crime is a factor, junkies buy their smack on Austin drive into Oak Park, get their fix and go about their lives (or get arrested with syringes). We have poverty- complete with crack and alcoholism right across the street. This isn't suburbia.

It is a great place to grow up in and live. Props to stylee too for growing up here and her help w/ this node.

These are famous people from the Chicago suburb Oak Park, IL.They have either lived or currently reside in the village.


If you think others should be mentioned here please /msg me.

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