Glenview History

10000 BC

To understand Glenview’s beginnings, you have to go back 13,500 years. Receding glacial ice left a flat, swampy floor within a scooped out lake with two elongated mounds of boulders, gravel, sand and clay on its northern edge. These mounds – known as moraines – are where present-day Glenview sits. 

10000 BC - 1700 AD

The first human settlements appeared 12,000 years ago. Mound builder civilizations gave way to modern tribes such as the Ho-Chunk, Peoria, Myamia and Sac and Meskwaki. The area that is now Glenview operated as a trading center and included migration routes along what is now Glenview Road, Waukegan Road and Milwaukee Avenue. By the 1700s, the Pottawatomi were the predominant tribe in the region and had settlements near the Glen View Club, The Grove and Wagner Farm. 


Relationships between the Pottawatomi and Americans deteriorated in the early 1800s and there was mounting pressure to remove all Native Americans from the region. Under the terms of the 1833 Treaty of Chicago, all tribes agreed to leave Illinois by 1837. Land speculators began arriving here in the late 1830s and purchased land near indigenous trails and villages. Despite the conditions of the treaty, the earliest white settlers would note a strong Pottawatomi presence throughout the 1840s, and some Pottawatomi would never leave the area. 


Among those early settlers was the Kennicott family, one of the first to settle in Northfield Township in March 1836. George Heslington and his wife stopped briefly at Fort Dearborn before laying claim to 160 acres on the site of the present Glen View Club, joined in 1836 by Mrs. Heslington’s parents, the Robert Dewes. 


Others included the Hutchings family, which homesteaded 120 acres extending along the north side of the Lake Trail (Glenview Road) from present-day Washington Street to about the present-day boundaries of the North Shore Country Club. John Wagner homesteaded a farm in 1837 along present-day East Lake Avenue that remains the only functioning dairy farm in Cook County today. 


A second phase of immigration occurred in the 1850s, followed by a period of prosperity for farmers during the Civil War years. Railroad tracks laid after the Chicago Fire of 1871 through what’s now the center of Glenview —to ship materials for rebuilding — led to business opportunities that created a town out of a crossroads. 


The Swedenborgian Chicago Society relocated to “the country” on converted farmland they made into The Park, luring well-known landscape architect Swain Nelson to establish a nursery here. The nursery grew to more than 300 acres, and Nelson's landscape design firm designed many landscapes in Iowa, including parks in Cedar Rapids, the grounds of a public library in Des Moines, and a hospital in Cherokee.


In the late 1800s, as Glenview transitioned from a farming community to a suburb, it was becoming apparent that more services were needed than the existing county government or informal township structure could provide. A local government was desired to more quickly meet those needs, like sidewalks and water service. A first attempt at incorporation failed in 1898. The second attempt, in 1899, passed by a vote of 59 for and 51 against. The results of the election were filed with the court on June 20, 1899, the official date of incorporation. The first meeting of the Glenview Village Board of Trustees was held July 25 at Glenview House.


Nearly all of the 300 or so in town turned out on Sept. 15, 1917, for the dedication of the “Children’s Fountain” — now known as the Jackman Park Bear — donated by steel magnate Edwin Jackman of Golf.  


Curtiss Flying Service purchased 345 acres of farmland in the 1920s for an airfield that boasted air shows and races. That prime location — as the nation geared up to fight World War II — got the attention in 1937 of the U.S. Navy, which bought it for Naval Air Station Glenview. Reserve training continued there after the war. Other land formerly used for nurseries became subdivisions. 


The Edens Expressway opened in 1951 and the postwar baby boom brought rapid change to Glenview. Farmland disappeared altogether as new streets, homes and parks sprang up because of the convenience of driving to and from the city. 


After the naval base closed in 1995, Glenview carefully undertook development of The Glen, the latest of the Village’s many neighborhoods. This kind of controlled growth has been a hallmark of Glenview’s success, along with the contributions of residents who over the years served on village, school and park boards and volunteered with service clubs and community organizations.  


Learn about the history of Glenview in this five-minute video produced by GVTV.