Located about 10 miles west of downtown Chicago, the Village of Forest Park is a family-oriented community with a small-town atmosphere boasting the conveniences of a much larger community such as easy access to shopping, transportation and medical services. The “Village with a Smile” has excellent schools as evidenced by the increasing academic achievements, innovative teachers and expanding curriculum. The Park District of Forest Park, a 15 acre park, features a beautiful, new aquatic center, and the Forest Park Public Library in its new quarters is constantly upgrading its collection and adding to its services. The services and programs offered by the Howard Mohr Community Center are the best around, and when shopping in Forest Park, whether its downtown Madison Street or at any one of a number of shopping areas, you’ll find local merchants and professionals and just about anything you need. Forest Park’s proximity to the Eisenhower Expressway provides convenient access to all to all roads and expressway systems. The Village of Forest Park is served by the CTA’s Congress and Lake Street El lines, MetraTrain and Pace suburban buses.

In 1856, attracted by the beauty of the land, Mr. John Henry Quick from Harlem, New York, purchased a farm on the site of what is now River Forest and built a two-story boarding house. At the same time, Mr. Israel Heller erected a store building nearby. This was the start of our town. There being no municipal control, Mr. Quick named everything that needed a name Harlem, after his native city. The Village of Harlem, which was comprised of the vast area which later became River Forest and a portion of Oak Park, was incorporated in 1884. When the village applied for its own Post Office, they were informed this was not possible since there already was a Harlem, Illinois with a Post Office on the northern fringe of Rockford. Hence, a new name for the Village had to be selected. A contest was held and the last portions of the name of the town North and East were joined in a clever manner--namely Forest Park. At a village hall meeting August 12, 1907, a resolution was passed changing the name of the Village of Harlem to the Village of Forest Park.

At an election in 1911, the Village of Forest Park adopted the commission form of government which it still operates under today with a mayor and four commissioners serving four-year terms. The municipal complex houses a full time police department staffed by a chief and 23 full-time firefighters and 6 contracted paramedics. The police department has a neighborhood watch program, a speaker’s bureau and a D.A.R.E. program. Fire department programs include learn not to burn, blood pressure testing and a speaker’s bureau. The Recreation Board oversees 2 tot lots offering summer programs. Village Hall hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The Village Council meets the second and fourth Mondays of every month at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 517 Des Plaines Avenue in the lower level. You may reach the Village Hall at (708) 366-2323.

The Howard Mohr Community Center, named in honor of the late state senator and Forest Park mayor, serves as an entertainment and social service center with programs serving children and the elderly. Clubhouse is a before and after school daycare program for children from first through fifth grade offered weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Summer Clubhouse runs weekdays throughout the summer. The community center provides emergency assistance and crisis intervention and a meals on wheels program, and offers senior and youth activities and other special programs. The food pantry is available to residents in need of emergency food, and food and gift baskets are provided those same families during the holidays through this program. The community center is home to the Senior Citizens Club of Forest Park and is also available for rental. The Howard Mohr Community Center is located at 7640 Jackson Blvd. You may reach the community center at (708) 366-7171.

The Forest Park Public Library boasts a new, modern facility equipped with new educational mechanisms including internet access, The Reading Edge (a device that assists the vision impaired), a telephone directory computer disk, a Chicago Tribune index and more. The library is staffed by seven full-time and fifteen part-time employees and it’s shelves hold about 90,000 items. A number of programs sponsored by the Forest Park Library include arts and crafts, story hours, family movies, guest speakers, educational seminars and holiday parties. Library hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays (September through May) 1 to 5 p.m. The Forest Park Public Library is located at 7555 Jackson Blvd. You may reach the library at (708) 366-7171.

The main attraction of the Park District of Forest Park is the Forest Park Aquatic Center which opened June 1, 1996 and features two flume slides, two drop slides, a diving board, an interactive play structure, lap lanes and a zero-depth shallow end. It is surrounded by landscaped sun decks with a nearby concession stand, sand play area and a sand volleyball court. The park district also offers a variety of recreational programs throughout the year for all ages. Seasonal brochures list these activities and special events. The park includes 15 acres with eight lighted tennis courts, three baseball diamonds, a lighted football soccer field, a tot lot, and a disabled-accessible adventure playground. The pool is available for rental as well as the basketball courts. The Park District of Forest Park is located at 7501 W. Harrison Street. You can reach the park district at (708) 366-7500.

Recognizing the uniqueness of each individual in the learning process, the Forest Park Elementary Schools 91 is dedicated to the purpose of developing programs which promote personal, social, intellectual, academic, and aesthetic development. “Our mission, in partnership with home and community, is to educate each child in a safe and nurturing environment where we will foster respect and self-worth, teach the skills relevant to contemporary life, promote academic success and creative expression, encourage an appreciation of the rich cultural diversity of our global community, and instill a sense of wonder for the future, thus enabling our students to become responsible citizens and life-long learners.” The District 91 Administrative Center is housed in the former Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, freeing up classrooms for the ever-increasing enrollment. The Board of Education meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month in the board room of the District 91 Administrative Center. The District 91 Administrative Center is located at 424 Des Plaines Avenue. You can reach the administrative center at (708) 366-5700.

St. Bernardine School - 815 Elgin Avenue (708) 366-6890
St. John Lutheran School - 305 Circle Avenue (708) 366-2764
Forest Park Montessori Child Development Center - 16 Lathrop Avenue (708) 771-8337

Proviso East High School - 807 S. First Avenue, Maywood (708) 344-7000
Triton Community College - 200 Fifth Avenue, River Grove (708) 456-0300
Concordia University - 7400 Augusta, River Forest (708) 771-8300
Dominican University - 7900 West Division Street, River Forest (708) 524-5990

The Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, Forest Park's oldest business organization, first called the Forest Park Businessman;s Association was organized in 1912 by local businessman and remains active today with a 21-member Board of Directors making the decisions. The chamber board is comprised of local business people, professionals, government officials and community minded individuals working together to promote business and a sense of community in Forest Park.The full time chamber office is located in the heart of downtown Forest Park at 7508 Madison Street where the executive director fields phone calls with questions regarding membership, local business, the community and more. General membership meetings held the second Tuesday of each month, offer the Chamber's 140 plus members educational speakers and an opportunity to network. Social events held offer further networking opportunities and a time to enjoy the company of their peers. The Forest Park Chamber of Commerce copublishes a Forest Park Community Guide each year, sponsors a downtown holiday lighting program and holds several community and promotional events including: a St. Patrick's Day Parade, Summerfest, the All School Picnic, a Christmas Walk with free photos with Santa. Social events include the Annual Dinner Dance and the William R. McKenzie Memorial Golf Outing. You can reach the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce at (708) 366-2543.

As you travel the Eisenhower Expressway in the Forest Park area, the first thing you’ll see is a sign for Ferrarra Pan Candy Company, home of the famous Lemonheads. Ferrarra Pan is a fine example of the businesses and industries that have made Forest Park their base for decades. Roosevelt Road’s commercial district features real estate offices, auto sales and automotive services and restaurants. Downtown Madison Street offers a healthy mix of newcomers and longtime business owners in retail, restaurants and services. The quaint downtown, while continually modernizing, still features varied architecture that gives shoppers a glimpse into the early part of the century.

It’s not difficult to get to, from or around Forest Park via public transportation. The village is served by the Chicago CTA’s Congress and Lake Street El lines, Metra, and Pace suburban buses.

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