Oak Park, originally part of Cicero became its own municipality in 1902. The first settlers in what became the village of Oak Park were Joseph and Berry Kettlestrings of Yorkshire, England, who moved here in 1837. The Kettlestrings, whose property bordered the Frink Walker & Company stage line between Chicago and Galena, used their home as a tavern for travellers and farmers. 

The arrival of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad in 1848 brought an influx of settlers to the area, then known as Oak Ridge. The Kettlestrings saw an opportunity to subdivide their farm and sell lots to the new arrivals. They were selective about whom they sold to, however, offering lots only to good people who were against saloons and for good schools and churches. In the 1850’s Oak Ridge became part of Cicero. 

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 brought more newcomers to Oak Ridge, renamed Oak park the same year. The village was one of many Chicago area communities to ban alcohol sales, even before e national Prohibition was enacted, and Oak Park remained dry until the 1970’s. In 1901 the Chicago Transit Authority build and “L” station in Oak Park attracting early commuters. The community was incorporated as a village the following year. Today Oak Park, known for its historic preservation and its range of architecture, has three National Historic Districts. 

An impressive number of prominent individuals are associated with Oak Park. Including McDonalds corporation founder Ray Kroc, bob Newhart and Betty White, Sears Roebuck & Company founder Richard Sears. Oak Park is mostly known for two men architect Frank Lloyd Wright and author Earnest Hemingway. 

Frank Lloyd Wright, a native of Wisconsin, lived and worked in Oak Park from 1889 to 1909. Developing a philosophy he called organic architecture. Wright founded the Prairie School of design and came to be considered by many to be the greatest American architect of all time. Visitors from all over the globe flock to Oak Park to see the town’s tow dozen Wright designed structures.

Earnest Hemingway, born in Oak Park in 1899, graduated from Oak park and River Forest Township High School in 1917. After a brief stint reporting .  In 19221 Hemingway returned to Europe, where soon took up fiction writing, publishing his first book of fiction in 1923. Hemingway went on to become one of the most acclaimed American Novelists in literary history.  The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park manages tow museums related to the great WRITER, THE Ernest Hemingway Museum, housed in the Oak Park Arts C enter and the Hemingway Birth Place Museum. The foundation no longer owns the author’s boyhood home; it was purchased by a private buyer.   

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