Rogers Park is a vibrant and diverse community 9 miles north of downtown Chicago, known for beautiful parks, spectacular early 20th-century architecture, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and a bustling art community. These days when housing developments are built and new neighborhoods created, their names contain little to nothing that ties them to the land or the history of the area. (Canyon Estates or Highland Lakes…really? Wasn’t this place a cornfield two years ago?)
In 1836, a 24-year old Irish settler named Patrick Rogers migrated to the Chicago area and purchased a large tract of land from the U.S government for a whopping $1.25/ acre. The land centered around the crossroads of two Native American paths which now form the intersection of Touhy and Ridge Avenues. Rogers farmed, operated a toll gate next to his cabin near what is now Ridge and Lunt roads, traded goods with the Pottawattomie tribes, and eventually grew his holdings to 1600 acres. Alas, poor Patrick was not destined for a long life, and in 1856 his holdings passed down to his son-in-law, Patrick Touhy.
Touhy was an enterprising man himself and in 1970, sold a portion of his land to speculators with now-familiar names of John Farwell, Luther Greenleaf, Stephen Lunt, Charles Morse, and George Estes. Eventually, they went into business together and formed the Rogers Park Building and Land Company, in honor of Touhy’s father-in-law. Within five years the burgeoning community of a few hundred residents voted to incorporate as a village, taking the name Rogers Park. Fifteen years later the population had grown to 3,500 and the Village of Rogers Park asked to be annexed into the City of Chicago, thus becoming the very first Chicago Community Area.
As rich and interesting as Rogers Park is today, it is nice to know that it has always been a center for commerce, families, and community identity.
Written by Fulton Grace Agent John Weideman
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