Evanston is a city in Cook County that was first settled in 1836. It’s located 12 miles north of downtown Chicago. Evanston is bordered by Wilmette to the north, Chicago to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, and Skokie to the west. It’s the place where Chicago and the North Shore meet. The North Shore is an affluent, suburban area that stretches from Lake Bluff through Evanston in Illinois.
Originally, Evanston consisted mostly of wetlands and swampy forests. There were some semi-permanent Potawatomi settlements along several trails that crossed the area. These lands came to be known as “Grosse Point” during the 1830s and 1840s. In 1850, a civil township called Ridgeville was organized. This township included present-day Chicago’s Lakeview, Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park neighborhoods, as well as part of what is now Evanston.
In 1857, Evanston Township was split from Ridgeville Township. In 1863, Evanston was incorporated as a town. After the Civil War, it expanded by annexing the villages of North Evanston and South Evanston. In 1892, Evanston became a city. In 2014, Evanston Township was dissolved by voters with its duties and obligations being absorbed by the City of Evanston. Its boundaries were coterminous with those of the former township.
Evanston is the home of Northwestern University, which nowadays ranks among the best in the U.S. It was founded in 1851 by a group of Methodist businessmen, including John Evans, for whom Evanston was named. During the 1960s, Northwestern University expanded and altered the city’s shoreline by reclaiming land off Lake Michigan. It has enjoyed a tax-exempt status on state and municipal property obligations since its foundation.
Here are some fun facts about Evanston:
► It’s the birthplace of Tinkertoys (1914).
► Among other places, it claims to have invented the ice cream sundae in 1890.
► It was a dry community (alcohol prohibited) from 1858 until 1972.
In the 2010 Census, Evanston’s population was 74,486 inhabitants. Notable Evanstonians include Steve Albini, Marlon Brando, John & Joan Cusack, Karen Finley, Lecy Goranson, Lauren Lapkus, Michael Madsen, Seth Meyers, Shira Piven, Eddie Vedder, and Ruby Wax. Since June 2018, I’ve been an Evanston resident as well.