Western Springs in the late 1800s

Western Springs was incorporated in 1886 by a vote of 34 to 25. The population at that time was approximately 300 residents, most of them Quakers.  The original settlement was bounded by present day Ogden Avenue, Wolf Road, 47th Street and the marshland to the west of town (near the present day toll road). Ogden Avenue was a dirt road and Wolf Road connected it with Plainfield Road. There was only open land to the east of Wolf Road. The railroad extended from Chicago to Aurora, through Western Springs and by 1880 the third track had been installed.

“……the town’s biggest feature was the railroad track.  West bound trains there gathered speed for the ascent into Hinsdale, the east bound went through so fast that the mail bags, then delivered by throwing them violently at the depot, sometimes landed among the wild strawberries…. In due course of time, more of the trains slowed up and stopped…..”  (A resident remembers)

South of the tracks, on the present day Tischler site, there were two ponds for swimming – one for boys and one for girls. Hillgrove Avenue was a dirt road and until 1891 (when it burned down), there was a wooden railroad station  at the corner of Hillgrove Avenue and Wolf Road. Present day Burlington Avenue, across from the train station, was a muddy area with a slight incline and hill near what is now Kirshbaums.

What we now know as SpringRockPark was the location of the artesian springs. Until  the late 1890’s, water came from cisterns and wells, homes were heated by fireplaces or cast iron stoves, and light was provided by candles and oil lamps.  Cows were kept in back yards and many residents had chickens. There was also a horse watering trough at the corner of Lawn and Hillgrove Avenues. There were no telephones, sidewalks, or public water systems.

At that time, there was one house on the corner of Hillgrove and Wolf and the Greenblatt house on what would now be the corner of Hillgrove and Lawn.

Fires threatened many buildings in Western Springs, including the Greenblatt house and the wooden train station, which both burned down. There were several times when the Ekdahls had to take all of their shoes and line them up on Hillgrove to avoid losing/perishing their stock. A volunteer fire department was founded in 1894.