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These days, Des Plaines is one of the most vibrant and bustling small towns in northern Illinois, but its desirable status was a long time in the making. The town of Des Plaines got its start with the signing of the Treaty of Chicago in 1833 with the Potawatomi Indians, which cleared the way for white settlers to make their homes in the region surrounding the Des Plaines River. Directly following the treaty, many German immigrants fleeing the political unrest that followed the German revolutions of 1848 poured into the area. Beginning in the 1850s, rail lines crisscrossed the land, connecting it with Chicago and other nearby towns to the north and south. The settlement grew from the activity centered about the local train station established by the Chicago and North Western Railroad.
In 1869, the small village was incorporated and officially named Des Plaines. The Des Plaines River was the heart of the new town's economy in the 19th century and manufacturing popped up along its banks to support the local farming community, including a grist mill that was located in what is now downtown Des Plaines. The area surrounding the downtown train station also developed into a flourishing commercial district, and the town grew steadily, attracting settlers from Chicago.
The construction of O'Hare International Airport in 1955 sparked the next serious growth experienced by Des Plaines, Illinois. The town's population increased by almost five times in the years that immediately followed the airport's opening. Since then, the number of inhabitants in Des Plaines has hovered between 50,000 and 60,000 people, making it one of the quieter Chicago suburbs. Despite its mid-range size, Des Plaines is one of the most economically diverse suburban Chicago cities with a wide-reaching wealth of industries.
If you're interested in digging a little bit deeper into the history of Des Plaines, be sure to head over to the Des Plaines Historic Museum (789 Pearson St). The museum features intriguing exhibits on the town's past and historic events that shaped the city into the wonderful community it is today.
There are 58 different parks and park facilities in the town of Des Plaines, so there is plenty of opportunity for residents to "get out into the wild" and give their legs a little stretch. Because there is so much green space in Des Plaines, we can't possibly catalog every single park, but we'll touch on some of the larger ones to give you a taste of what this suburban Chicago area has offer.
Chippewa Park (123 8th Ave, 847-391-5700) is one of the most popular recreational spots in Des Plaines, both because of its size and its excellent facilities. The park is massive - about the size of three city blocks - and it has the facilities to host just about any sport or recreational activity you might hope for. The park has three basketball courts, four lighted tennis courts, two baseball diamonds, a soccer field, and a swimming pool. One thing that Chippewa Park doesn't have, though, is a source of natural water, which can be found at Prairie Lakes Park (515 E Thacker, 847-391-5700), which has three small lakes that are surrounded by fields and parkland. The park grounds also include two sand volleyball courts, two soccer fields, two outdoor basketball courts, in addition to a softball field and playground. Unlike other public parks, Prairie Lakes doesn't go into hibernation in the wintertime due to the indoor fitness center and two indoor basketball courts. Des Plaines residents are happy to take advantage of the heated athletic facilities during the colder months (something Illinois gets plenty of from mid-October through May).
Golfers aren't left out in the cold in Des Plaines either. There may not be any indoor courses here, but when the weather gets nice the tee times fill up on the local links. The Des Plaines Park District operates an 18-hole golf course at Lake Park (Lee St and E Touhy Ave), just across the highway from O'Hare airport. Lake Park is a gorgeous, 60-acre park centered about Lake Opeka, a small but beautiful body of water engulfed by weeping willows and circled by walking paths and bike trails. On the south and west sides of the lake is a par-3, 18-hole golf course that is heavily used in the summer months.
Lake Park isn't the only place to hit the greens in Des Plaines though. The place that gets the most action from area golfers is Des Plaines Golf Center (353 N River Rd, 847-803-4653), which is also operated by the Des Plaines Park District. The Golf Center is situated on 40 acres of beautiful land next to the Des Plaines River. The facility is open year-round, with an 18-hole par-3 course available in the summer months. The holes range from 80 to more than 200 yards, and players have to negotiate sand bunkers, hills, tall grasses, and even a small lake. Additionally, the Golf Center offers two practice greens, as well as several sand traps on which you can practice.
Des Plaines residents benefit from a convenient location, next to O'Hare Airport and close to the city of Chicago, not to mention excellent schools and parks. But perhaps the most attractive aspect of settling down in Des Plaines, Illinois is real estate market, which offers homeowners great homes and affordable prices.
Des Plaines has a strong allure among suburban homebuyers due to its spacious and quiet nature, and because residences in this small Illinois town run the gamut of price and size. Des Plaines is one of the most economically diverse communities in the state with home prices ranging from about $30,000 to more than $1 million.
Most homeowners in Des Plaines enjoy large lots with private yards, driveways and often garages as well. As an older village, most of the properties in Des Plaines feature large, mature trees, which enhance the desirability of many of the properties. Indeed, there's plenty of room in which to spread out and roam around in Des Plaines, which makes it a perfect place for families to settle down. And you can bet those four-legged members of the family will especially appreciate the extra outdoor space!
On average, detached two-bedroom real estate in Des Plaines sells for around $280,000; three-bedroom homes go for about $330,000; and four or more bedrooms will put the average sale price at approximately $440,000. There are also a handful of detached, single-family homes valued at over a million dollars in Des Plaines, Illinois. Some of these properties are sprawling two-stories with four to six bedrooms, huge lots, private in-ground swimming pools, multiple-car attached garages, and lakefront yards. On the other end of the price spectrum are lovely one-story frame houses and raised ranches that start in the low $200,000s for a two-bedroom. A number of these residences do not have renovated interiors, updated appliances, or granite countertops, however, but they typically have decent-sized lots with ample outdoor space.
The residential real estate in Des Plaines, Illinois offers homebuyers attached living options, in addition to an inventory of detached, single-family houses. Condominium units here start in the low $80,000s for a one-bedroom, although the selection is limited. For the most part, you'll find one-bedrooms are listed on the market for $90,000 and up. On the higher end of the attached housing market in Des Plaines, you'll get spacious, new construction townhouses and condominiums with two or three bedrooms and attached garages for anywhere from $300,000 to $450,000. The average sale price for a one-bedroom unit in Des Plaines is around $140,000, for a two-bedroom it's $190,000, and three-bedrooms go for around $255,000, on average.
Des Plaines Residential Real Estate Info for Single-Family Detached Homes
|Average Sale Price 2005-2006||Average # of Days on the Market||Number of Sales 2005-2006||One Year Price Change||Price Change Since 94|
Source: Multiple Listings Service of Northern Illinois
Des Plaines is not known for being one of Chicagoland's most exciting dining destinations, but there is certainly enough to choose from to keep the appetites of most local residents satisfied. The Black Ram Restaurant (1414 E Oakton St, 847-824-1227) is one of the most popular places to go for an upscale American or steak dinner. The place has been open since the mid-1970s, and because of its longevity (and quality of food served there) the Black Ram can boast more customer loyalty than just about any other restaurant in Des Plaines.
The other upscale steakhouse in Des Plaines, Caf? La Cave (2777 Mannheim Rd, 847-827-7818), has an entirely different ambience than the long-established Black Ram Restaurant. How? Well, for starters, one of its two dining rooms is a cave. That's right: stone walls, stalactites, low lighting.it's actually one of the most romantic dining spots in Des Plaines, and the food and beverages are similarly ambitious, not to mention decadent. Caf? La Cave's house specialties include lobster tail, succulent rack of lamb, and a filet and sea bass duo. Because of its unique interior d?cor, Caf? la Cave is also an excellent place to host a special event or private party.
Des Plaines residents also have a soft spot for Italian cuisine and pizza, as you'll discover from the abundance of small Italian restaurants and trattorias in town. Carlucci Restaurant (6111 N River Rd, 847-518-0365) is the most elegant of Des Plaines' Italian eateries, and it is one of the most impressive restaurant operations in the Chicagoland area. In the large, 300-seat circular dining room you'll encounter some of the most enticing Italian delicacies imaginable, ranging from salmon tartare to an unusual (but delightful) Portobello mushroom carpaccio. And then there's the selection of homemade pastas: pappardelle, mezzaluna, linguini - all of the favorites can be found here, served with lamb, proscuiutto, parmesan cheese, and butternut squash (seasonally). Because pasta can sometimes tend to be heavier than other foods, Carlucci is an excellent choice in the winter, and the enormous dining room is broken up into several smaller rooms that give the place a cozier feel.
Des Plaines isn't exactly renowned for its shopping and retail outlets, but that doesn't mean you're entirely out of luck. Just to the north of Des Plaines in the neighboring town of Prospect Heights, shoppers flock to the Randhurst Shopping Center (999 Elmhurst Rd, 847-392-2287), the largest shopping mall in the immediate vicinity. With over 90 national stores, the mall draws shoppers from all over the Chicagoland area. The shopping center also features a 16-theatre multiplex and several dining options. It was recently announced that the Randhurst Mall will be entirely torn down and reconstructed in the form of an open-air, "Main Street-style" shopping center. Many of the existing retailers will remain, including its anchor department store, Carson Pririe Scott. Construction on the new mall is expected to be completed in 2010, and many of the retail outlets will remain open during the construction process.
There's no shortage of neighborhood watering holes where you can shore-up for a nightcap in Des Plaines, however, if you're looking for a spot where you can dance the night away, your options are pretty limited. That doesn't mean you should give your dancing shoes away. the Khiava Bar and Lounge (1575 Ellinwood St, 847-768-3000) is one of Des Plaines' most vibrant nightclubs and one of the best places for local residents to kick up their heels. The place features a large dance floor, a stage, a very attractive outdoor patio, and a spacious bar.
The Beacon Tap (1374 Lee St, 847-296-2335) probably has the richest legacy of any neighborhood bar you'll visit in Des Plaines, as it celebrated its 50th birthday in 2005. The name comes from the fact that much of Des Plaines was still rural farmland in the '50s, so when it first opened, the Beacon was one of the few places where people could meet and share a pint. Another popular hangout that has been around for a while is the Log Cabin Inn (346 Potter Rd, 847-299-1811), an old polish bar that is actually situated in - you guessed it - a log cabin. The interior was recently remodeled and much of the woodwork, which is truly gorgeous, was redone. Pop in for a drink and admire the craftsmanship for yourself.
The Des Plaines Theatre (1476 Minter St, 847-759-8025) is the only movie theatre in Des Plaines, and it is one of the most historic theaters in the Chicagoland area. The structure dates back to 1926, when it hosted vaudeville shows. The theater began showing first-run movies beginning in 1935, and it continued to do so for nearly 50 years until it was nearly destroyed by a fire. Since the late-1990s, the theatre has been running East Indian films, but there's talk that it will likely begin screening classic movies on occasion as well.
Des Plaines is home to several small but lively summer events that local families look forward to all year. One of the most popular is the Des Plaines Family Fun Festival (515 E Thacker St), which typically takes place on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. The event involves an arts and crafts show, various forms of entertainment, and other family activities. Another family-friendly event, the Pooch, Pet & Pedal Parade, operates in conjunction with the Family Fun Festival, and it's a favorite among the kids. There are a slew of different competition categories in which you can enter your dog, and prizes are also given out at the parade for best-decorated bike, helmet, etc.
Some of the other popular summer festivals in Des Plaines include the Des Plaines Art Guild Art Fair, which has been going on since 1953 and is held in the Des Plaines Library Plaza on the first weekend of June, and the Taste of Des Plaines. The Taste attracts more visitors than any other annual affair, and it's no wonder why when you get a whiff of the delicious edible bites offered. The event takes place on July Fourth weekend and the crowds often exceed 25,000 people. To give an idea of the sort of scale this event operates on-over 8,000 cheeseburgers were served at the 2007 Taste, more than 80 kegs of beer were consumed, and about 75 pounds of Italian sausage were served.
The Des Plaines school district - School District 62 - is one of the best in northern Illinois. The district consists of two middle schools and eight elementary schools that employ 316 certified teachers. More than 60 percent of the teachers in Des Plaines public schools have earned master's degrees and there is currently an 18 to one student to teacher ratio.
- Algonquin Middle School - 735 S Westgate Rd - (847) 824-1205
- Central Elementary School- 1526 Thacker St - (847) 824-1575
- Chippewa Middle School - 123 N 8th Ave - (847) 824-1503
- Cumberland Elementary School - 700 E Golf Rd - (847) 824-1451
- Forest Elementary School - 1375 S 5th Ave - (847) 824-1380
- Main West High School - 1755 S Wolf Rd - (847) 827-6176
- North Elementary School - 1789 Rand Rd - (847) 824-1399
- Orchard Place Elementary School - 2727 Maple St - (847) 824-1255
- Plainfield Elementary School - 1850 Plainfield Dr - (847) 824-1301
- South Elementary School - 1535 Everett Ave - (847) 824-1566
- Terrace Elementary School - 735 S Westgate Rd - (847) 824-1501
- Black Ram Steakhouse - 1414 E Oakton St - (847) 824-1227
- Caf? la Cave - 2777 Mannheim Rd - (847) 827-7818
- Crab & Things Seafood and Steak Restaurant - 1249 S Elmhurst Rd - (847) 437-1595
- Harry Carey's Restaurant - 10233 W Higgins Rd - (847) 699-1200
- David's Bistro - 623 N Wolf Rd - (847) 803-3233
- Carlucci Restaurant - 6111 N River Rd - (847) 518-0365
- Grazie Ristorante - 1050 E Oakton St - (847) 299-0011
- Guiseppe's La Cantina - 1062 Lee St - (847) 824-4230
- Oliveti's Italian Risotrante - 1575 Ellinwood Ave - (847) 299-3090
- Lalo's Mexican Restaurant - 1535 Ellinwood Ave - (847) 296-1535
- Las Asadas Restaurant - 356 Lee St - (847) 298-3393
Middle Eastern Cuisine
- Pita Inn - 9854 Milwaukee Ave - (847) 759-9990
- Barnaby's - 636 E Touhy Ave - (847) 297-8866
- Caruso's Pizza - 9576 Potter Rd - (847) 827-7171
- Leona's Pizza Restaurant - 1504 Miner St - (847) 759-0800
- Sarpino's Pizzeria - 578 E Oakton St - (847) 299-9222
Best Shopping Stops
- Fashion Bug - 1523 Lee St - (847) 827-3703
- Hart Schaffner & Marx - 1680 E Touhy Ave - (847) 299-5455
- Kmart - 1155 E Oakton St - (847) 296-6136
- Beacon Tap - 1374 Lee St - (847) 296-2335
- Khiava Bar and Lounge - 1575 Ellinwood St - (847) 768-3000
- Log Cabin Inn - 346 Potter Rd - (847) 299-1811