Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods reflect not only a melting pot of population, but also a culture reflective of its diverse ancestry. Neighborhoods that are now part of Chicago started out as trading outposts. In the case of Edison Park, the original inhabitants were stranded between the Des Plaines and Chicago rivers. This area served as a divide between east and west, with the Chicago River flowing into Lake Michigan, which led to the Atlantic. The Des Plaines River flowed into the Mississippi, which eventually fed into the Gulf of Mexico.
This location was also ideal for trading, with both rivers taking goods to a variety of stops. Long before a settlement was in place, this area was also known as a place to transport canoes from one river to another. Throughout the district’s history, it has maintained a reputation of being a transportation hub. Railroads and trains have been a significant part of the employment opportunities within the community. Today, the district is close to O’Hare airport and served by the Chicago Mass Transit, including the Blue Line and bus routes.
Edison Park was named after Thomas Edison in 1890, with his blessing. Additionally, it is also one of the main Irish enclaves within the Chicago area. Approximately ¼ of the population is estimated to be of Irish ancestry, according the 2000 U.S. Census.
Edison Park has become a middle class neighborhood with its own unique culture
One example is the Edison Park Festival. This event encompasses merchant sidewalk sales, parade, arts and crafts, as well as part of the Taste of Chicago. Typically the signal of the end of summer, the festival is also an opportunity for visitors to learn more about what makes this district so special and unique.
This family friendly community has several different schools, including both public and private. Churches from the early 20th century still hold services today. While the business district was originally home to butcher shops and other local businesses, today it is a food mecca for the residents. The Edison Park Field House, part of the Olympia Park, is home to various arts programs. Other park activities are also available, including fields for basketball and other sports.
The most northwest of all Chicago’s parks, Brooks Park is also home to the area’s boxing program. There are also horseshoe pits, volleyball and floor hockey. This park also offers classes in movement and music for the preschoolers of the district. Additionally, the district has three other parks, thus providing residents plenty of outdoor options for recreation.
Throughout the history of Edison Park, it is clear that the village was meant to appeal to families. Thus, the focus of the Community Council has been to maintain jobs for residents by zoning areas for light industry without creating an actual industrial park. Additionally, the Council works with the Chamber of Commerce to create community based events throughout the year. These events bring members of the community together, while supporting local businesses. As a result, the neighborhood has a warm and close-knit feeling.