History of DuPage County : DuPage Roots

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CHAPTER 6 Succession Community

                    SINCE 1950

  "Succession" is the description of the way plant communities evolve both in number and diversity. This ecological process, first formulated by Henry C. Cowles of the Univer­sity of Chicago in 1899, was popularized by May Theilgaard Watts of the Morton Arbore­tum in her book Reading the Landscape of America.

  This evolutionary model of simpler life forms giving way to the more complex also provides an interpretative framework for post 1950 DuPage. A comparable transformation in the county's population, economic, politi­cal, and cultural composition occurred in the wake of World War II.


  The 1980 census put this transformation in dramatic perspective. Of DuPage's 658,858 people, 75 percent had been gained in the preceding thirty years. The increase of 171,000 from 1970 represented the largest absolute growth of population in any county outside the Sunbelt. DuPage is currently the sixteenth fastest growing county, the others being located south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It has become larger than the cities of Boston, Cleveland, New Orleans; it has a population greater than five states. For most of the history of the six-county Chicago area, DuPage was least in population. It is now second largest in the state.

  Even since the turn of the decade, there have been marked developments. This has been particularly evident in Naperville which, ac­cording to a special count in 1983, has become the most populous community in DuPage with a total of 49,196 people. That increase of 6,600 persons amounts to a 15.5 percent growth in three years. Elmhurst, which had held the lead as the largest city in the county for most of the century, is now well behind in second place. In relative terms, the village of Bloomingdale showed the biggest gain between 1970 and 1980, from 2,974 to 12,659, a four­fold increase.

  This numerical expansion found its counter­part in spatial annexation. Naperville doubled in size virtually overnight in 1960, while William Zaininger was mayor, in the largest single annexation in DuPage history. This action followed the state legislature's adop­tion of the one-and-a-half-mile jurisdictional review rights for the purpose of preventing separate incorporation by adjacent subdivi­sions. Builders would often seek incorpora­tion with a minimum of residents to escape the requirements of the county's or city's building code. In the 1970s the incorporated city again expanded from twelve to twenty-two square miles. In DuPage as a whole, unincorporated areas decreased correspondingly from encom­passing 23 percent of the population in 1970 to 18 percent in 1980.

  Three other characteristics of the changing demographic scene must be noted, each a sign of the times in society at large. The increased percentage in nonwhite residents presents it­self first. The overall pattern was from less than 1 percent of the population in 1970 to more than 5.2 percent ten years later. Hispanics represent 2.6 percent of the total, Asian-Americans 1.4 percent, and blacks 1.2 per­cent. Among communities with higher-than­average nonwhite groups are West Chicago and Bensenville with Hispanics comprising 16.7 percent and 8.4 percent of these com­munities respectively. Glendale Heights is 12 percent nonwhite with 7.8 percent of these being Asian. Carol Stream's population is 4 percent black.


Du Page County Population Growth, 1840 - 2000

Courtesy DuPage County Development Department



   A survey of 800 Hispanic families in nine Addison Township Catholic parishes showed that most had come from four states of Mexico, although Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Guatemalans were also represented. Most have been in this country less than ten years. There is a generation of older Hispanics who came to work on the railroads in the 1920s and 1930s and whose children are actively involved in all aspects of community life.

  A large number of Asian-Americans live in the southeast corner of the country, including the villages of Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Willowbrook, Darien, Clarendon Hills, Westmont, Downers Grove, Woodridge, and Lisle. People of Asiatic descent in that area include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Asian Indians. Be­cause many of them have specialized in en­gineering and scientific fields, they have found employment in Argonne National Laboratory. Westmont resident Tirupataiah Tella is presi­dent of the Federation of India Association, which oversees fifty groups serving approxi­mately 50,000 Asian Indians in the Chicago area. She estimates that 90 percent of this population has migrated within the last ten to fifteen years.

  Two other characteristics of the changing population pattern pertain to the composition of households. The increase of single-parent homes from 6.8 percent to 10.8 percent during the 1970s bespeaks the effects of an increase in the society's divorce rate. The aging of the general population in DuPage is seen in the median age rising from 26.1 years in 1970 to 29.4 years in 1980. While the "Graying of America" is not happening as rapidly locally as elsewhere in the nation, it has already meant the closing of a number of schools.

  The implication of these shifts in demo­graphic features will be noted now in other aspects of the contemporary social landscape. The foremost factor to be considered is econo­mic, serving as both cause and effect of popula­tion increase.


  Long identified as a "commuter's paradise," DuPage has now become increasingly the place of employment. An early turning point in this direction was construction of the Eisenhower (Congress) Expressway in 1956. The concomitant closing of the CA&E railroad symbolized the end of the preceding era. Previously the settlement pattern was villages growing up around the railroad stations. The new pattern became a proliferation of housing subdivisions beyond village centers, reachable only by automobile. The vast conversion of farms into "dormitory" tract developments continued without letup from the mid-1950s until the late 1970s, with residents commuting elsewhere in the metropolitan area for employ­ment.

  As a result of such growth, Harold Dunton, assistant Milton Township supervisor, devised a house numbering system in 1953 for the unincorporated areas of the county. The base line for east west addresses was State Street, and north south was Madison Street. Hence, the Wood Dale Historical Museum at 7 N 040 Wood Dale Road is seven miles north of Madison.

  A further mutation occurred by the time of the 1980 census. The number of people coming to work inside the county exceeds the number going outside the county. Those who still com­mute to work number 141,564. Those resi­dents working inside DuPage total 162,191, while 124,715 persons are coming in from the outside. Currently, for every one job held outside DuPage, two are being provided in­ternally. The proportion of jobs in the six­-county metropolitan area generated by DuPage doubled, from 4.4 percent in 1970 to 8.5 percent in 1980. Median family income rose to $30,431-the highest in the state and the twelfth highest nationally.

  Housing continues to be the focal point of the area's economic development, although it no longer enjoys the near-monopoly of capital spending it held through the 1950s.

  Two-thirds of the county's 211,710 acres are currently developed with residential use constituting 36.8 percent of the acreage devel­oped between 1970 and 1980. During that same period 13 percent of the land was devoted to commercial, industrial, and ORD (office, research, and development).

  Among the earliest of the developers was Harold Moser, who came to Naperville in 1917 at the age of two when his osteopath father moved to that community. By the mid­1930s, young Moser had started the Naperville Sun, which he soon sold. He subse­quently purchased the Kluckhom Coal Com­pany and later converted it into a lumber yard, leading Moser directly into construction. He began his housing development in 1951 with Moser Highlands. This was followed by Naperville Plaza, Cress Creek, West Moser Highlands, representing a total of 9,000 power connections.

  Coming from outside the DuPage area, the first of the large tract builders was the Hoffman Group, originally called Hoffman-Rosner. The company came to Chicago from Arizona in 1955 and started with the construction of Hoffman Estates. It then moved into DuPage County, with developments in Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Bolingbrook, Bloomingdale, Wheaton, and Glendale Heights.

  During the 1979-1982 recession, Hoffman pioneered a variable mortgage plan. As infla­tion forced alternatives to single-family dwel­lings and made for downsized homes, its models won awards in the 1982 Builder's Magazine, published by the National Associa­tion of Home Building. United Development, the residential arm of Urban Investment, which is the commercial developer of the Oak Brook shopping center, Poulty Builders, Town & Country are other major contractors. Other individuals whose early plans were the har­bingers of later expansion included Harold Reskin, Jay Stream, and Paul Butler.

  Following World War II Reskin and his father, Charles, after completing projects in North Lake and Villa Park, looked farther west along North Avenue and identified the area to be incorporated in 1959 as Glendale Heights. It was so named because of its location be­tween Glen Ellyn and Bloomingdale.

  In that same year, Carol Stream was incor­porated and named after the daughter of devel­oper Jay Stream. Like Glendale Heights, it included an increasing number of multifamily units. For DuPage as a whole, 69,502 units are in multiples, housing 30 percent of the popu­lation, compared to 18 percent in 1970.

  Jay Stream also planned varied land use, as did Paul Butler for the village of Oakbrook. In Carol Stream provision was made for indus­trial development to keep homeowners' pro­perty taxes low. Container Corporation of America, Crown Zellerbach, and Fiat-Allis were among the companies to locate in that community. Jay Stream left in the early 1960s to become business manager for entertainer Wayne Newton, with whom he shared an interest in Arabian horses.

  Oakbrook celebrated its twenty-fifth anni­versary in 1983, after its transformation from a 7,000-acre rural area, owned by Paul Butler, to the commercial, if not geographical, center of the county. A quarter of the Fortune 500 companies maintain offices in the community, including the headquarters of fifteen major companies, such as McDonald's and Chicago Bridge & Iron.

  Among the other communities celebrating their silver anniversary recently were Oakbrook Terrace, Willowbrook, and Woodridge. In 1958 the city of Utopia was incorporated, thus continuing the name that had been asso­ciated with the area around Butterfield and Summit roads since 1881. In that year Elmhurst postmaster Dr. Frederich Bates gave it that name after receiving complaints from around Albert Knapp's creamery/cheese fac­tory that residents were not receiving their mail. That missing correspondence included bills, which made "Utopia" seem an appro­priate name. In 1959, however, by referendum vote (101 yes, 84 no) the name was changed to Oakbrook Terrace, thus indicating its proxi­mity to the new shopping center.

  The name for Willowbrook came about in a different manner. According to the county's Reference and Yearbook, in 1959 a homeowners' group decided to incor­porate as a village. Changes in the law scheduled to become effective January 1 which would require a population of 400 for incorporation, caused this group of 167 people to expedite its request. In fact, while the case was before court, the attorney called the association's president, Anton Borse, frantically asking a name for the new village. Borse looked out of his window at the willow trees along the edge of a creek on his property and promptly gave the village its name. Willowbrook became one of the state's smallest villages on January 16, 1960.



Argonne experiment. Biologist Patricia Irving demonstrates the acid rain simulation to members of the Forest Foundation of DuPage County. Courtesy Argonne National Laboratories


Director, Leon Lederman (Rear) and high energy physicist John Yoh are pictured in one of the laboratories at Fermilab.

Courtesy Fermi National Accelerator Laboratories

  This community also contains one of several pet cemeteries in DuPage County. In Willow­brook the grave sites are at 64th and Bentley roads. Another, the Illinois Pet Cemetery, founded in 1926, is on Jefferson Road, south of Hanover Park.

  Neighboring Burr Ridge took its name from the Burr Ridge Estates, as it joined Woodview Estates, the village of Harvester, and the International Harvester Center in 1961. This combination of subdivisions and Harvester facilities is located in both Cook and DuPage counties.

  The most recent community to be incor­porated was Darien in 1969. Its name was taken from Darien, Connecticut.

  There are unincorporated areas which con­tinue to resist annexation. Keeneyville resi­dents, near Hanover Park, still maintain horses on their property, a practice prohibited in municipalities. The only civic institution in Eola, adjacent to Aurora at the Kane County line, is the post office. Each of its households depends upon its own well water and septic field.

  The macroeconomic picture of the county would not be complete without surveying the variety of other commercial and industrial growth, particularly in the last fifteen years.

  The first research institution in the county was Argonne National Laboratories. It opened in 1947 as the peaceful spinoff from the original atomic fission experiment under Stagg Field at the University of Chicago (the military counterpart is in White Sands, New Mexico). It has since expanded its research to cover a broad range of projects, such as the effects of acid rain and, until 1981 federal cutbacks, of toxic metals in the Great Lakes.

  The 6,800-acre Fermilab, opening in 1973, houses the largest high-energy particle acceler­ator in the world Subatomic particles are orbited at the rate of 50,000 times a second in a ring four miles in circumference. When these smash against the target area, the basic struc­ture of matter is explored, yielding results in such fields as cryogenics and super-conduc­tivity. Five hundred scientists from the United States and abroad conduct their experiments at any given time on this site of the short-lived post World War II village of Weston.

  Commercial research and development is represented by the "High Tech Corridor'' along the East West Tollway. Largest of these "R & D" facilities is AT&T Laboratories with 6,146 employees. This number does not in - dude the 2,000 persons working in its adja­cent software center, AT&T Technologies (formerly Western Electric Company).

  There are thirty-eight industrial parks in DuPage, the largest being the 1,500-acre Santa Fe Argonne Park with 600 acres devel­oped. Second in land acreage but first in development is the Carol Stream Industrial Properties, with 980 of its 1,100 acres devel­oped. The cluster of industrial parks in Addison contains United Parcel Service's (UPS) largest sorting facility; this hub handles 1 million UPS packages a day.

  There are a total of 222 companies in DuPage with at least 150 employees. Retail sales in DuPage rose from 8 percent of the total in the six-county metropolitan area in 1970 to 12 percent in 1980 and are estimated to reach 17 percent in 1990. The fourth regional shop­ping center, Stratford Square, was completed in 1981 on 873 acres. Oakbrook opened first in 1962, followed by Yorktown in 1968 and Fox Valley in 1975.


  Whenever officials speak at public forums, the most frequently mentioned issue is water. This topic signifies that the most obvious effect of post World War II change has been environ­mental.

  The water issue is succinctly summarized by the fact that the two-thirds of a million resi­dents, along with institutional users, consume 80 million gallons of groundwater per day, compared to 50 million that can be extracted without depleting the water supply. The estimate is that water usage will increase 60 percent, to 130 million gallons per day, within forty years. The water table is already drop­ping as much as ten feet per year in parts of the county.



Flooding at Route 83, south of St. Charles Road


Active Industrial, Commercial and Office Parks

Locations in DuPage County

Source : Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry.

Courtesy of DuPage County Development Department

DuPage County Regional Planning Commission


 Hamilton Lakes -

The Stouffer Hotel (left), and office building in Itasca.