Community History

The Beverly Hills/Morgan Park community of Chicago is known as "the Ridge". The area, lying 30 to 60 feet above the rest of the city on a ridge formed by glaciers, is now distinguished by the quality of its residential architecture. The community displays examples of all American house styles developed since 1844. See current map of Beverly Hills/Morgan Park community

Landholding was not regularized until 1839 when John Blackstone bought 3,000 acres from the United States government. In 1844, Blackstone sold most of the property to Thomas Morgan, who with his family farmed and hunted most of the area from 91st Street to 119th Street. In 1867 the Morgan holdings were sold to the Blue Island Land & Building Company, a development firm backed by many executives from the Rock Island Railroad. This was critical to the future of the community. A special commuter line was built to serve the Ridge, providing a convenient link to jobs and markets in the city for the families who were building their homes in "the suburbs".

In 1872 the Village of Washington Heights was incorporated for the area north of 107th Street, and in 1882 the Village of Morgan Park was established south of 107th Street. Washington Heights grew into a series of small population centers along the Rock Island tracks. Morgan Park centered on 111th Street, and was developed around educational institutions including the Baptist Theological Seminary and Morgan Park Military Academy.

In 1890, the, Rock Island commuter line was extended to serve the northern portion of the Ridge. The area, which would later be known as Beverly Hills, was annexed to the City of Chicago that same year. The village of Morgan Park did not agree to Annexation until 1914, after a 25-year battle between those for and against annexation.

The community is rich in examples of Stick, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Tudor, French Provincial, Prairie, Craftsman, Italian Renaissance, Neoclassical, Art Moderne, International Style, Ranch and Contemporary houses.

Many of Chicago's most important home designers are represented here, including Frank Lloyd Wright, George Washington Maher, Howard Van Doren Shaw and Walter Burley Griffin. This neighborhood also called on noteworthy architects whose work primarily is in this region, including Harry Hale Waterman, Rudolph Boehm, Homer G. Sailor and father and son John Todd and Murray Hetherington.

 
©2002 Ridge Historical Society
Site designed by JMC Studios, Inc. Hosted by INSNet. Maintained by Ridge Historical Society