River Forest Real Estate
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Before the arrival of Europeans, the area that now comprises the village of River Forest was home to several different Native American tribes. The construction of a sawmill on the banks of the Des Plaines River in 1831 spurred interest in the area and led to the earliest incarnation of the town known as Novesville (which would eventually become the Chicago suburb of River Forest). The settlement's riverside location was convenient for early industry and the fertile top soil of the surrounding land was ideal for both crop farming and for raising livestock.
The close proximity to the growing city of Chicago to the east certainly did not impede the region's development. When Chicago's first rail line, The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, was constructed in 1848, it ran through nearby Oak Park, which drew even more people to the area. The population continued to rise throughout the second half of the century, experiencing a large boost after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, when many of the city's residents were forced to look for housing beyond city limits.
The town was incorporated as River Forest in 1880, due mostly to pressure fueled by the temperance movement aimed at trimming down alcohol consumption in the region. It seems many of the community's residents were concerned with the mounting number of taverns located on the town's east side and wanted a governing body to help control development. The incorporation was challenged in the courts but was eventually upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Population growth in River Forest started to level off in the early 1900s. Several subdivisions were constructed since that time, however, the number of residents in River Forest has held steady at around 13,000 for nearly four decades.
River Forest Park District has plenty of open green space available for residents to enjoy sport and leisure activities. Keystone Park (400 Keystone Ave, 708-366-6660) has perhaps the most to offer with two soccer fields as well as baseball, softball and T-ball diamonds. The park also has batting cages for would-be sluggers to work on their swings prior to taking the field. Tennis buffs will enjoy the outdoor courts which are lit at night in case those matches stretch until the evening hours. There's also a rock climbing wall to appease the adventure-seeking set of River Foresters. Priory Park (7354 Division St, 708-366-6660) has three soccer fields and two baseball diamonds, plus a play area for tots and a walking path for those who prefer a slower-paced work out. Baseball and soccer are also options on the fields of Centennial Park (Chicago & Lathrop Avenue, 708-366-6660), which features plenty of open space for picnics, playing catch or letting the kids run around as well.
River Forest is an affluent suburb with some of the highest property values in the Chicagoland area. The average home sale price was $825,000 in 2006, with an average market time of around 70 days. Single family homes here range from the mid $300,000s for a three or four bedroom frame house to two- or three-million-dollar McMansions with five bedrooms, professionally landscaped yards and luxury amenities. There is also an inventory of attached residential real estate in River Forest that includes condos, duplexes and townhouses. These properties range from $75,000 for a basic one-bedroom courtyard unit to the high $700,000s for upmarket new developments with deluxe features and great locations.
With a wealth of turn-of-the-century houses as well as more recently constructed subdivisions and estates, River Forest housing is varied in style and options, giving home buyers their choice of first-rate investment opportunities. One of the most notable properties in River Forest is the Winslow House. This home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1893, showcases many of the architect's trademark features that would later appear in his Prairie Style design. Known as Wright's inaugural effort to change the face of residential architecture, this treasured example of his work is a toned-down version of his later homes in the area, such as the Chauncey Williams House (1895) and the Arther Davenport House (1901). Winslow is still a private dwelling, and unfortunately, many of Wright's other designs in River Forest have been torn down over the years.
River Forest 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
The chain of fast-food pizzerias, Pompei Restaurant (7215 W Lake St, 708-488-9800), has a location serving River Forest with their tasty selection of pizza, pasta and Italian sandwiches. Ordering is done at their counter but a server will deliver your food hot and fast. They also deliver. Grandma Sally's Family Restaurant (7301 North Ave, 708-771-2047) is a no-frills breakfast spot that serves up your traditional, calorie-laden American breakfasts. While pancakes and waffles may be Grandma's specialty they do a mean burger and fries as well. Any time of day or night, when you really need to get something solid in your gut, River Forest Grill (7225 North Ave, 708-366-9645) can hook you up. Open 24 hours, the Grill tends to attract a clientele that wouldn't go there unless it was the only thing open, but once the plates arrive and the first bites are gone, patrons can't help but smile with satisfaction. Annie's Italian Beef (7601 Lake St, 708-366-8580) dishes up a great Italian beef, of course, but this family-friendly restaurant has a great kids' menu for the little ones who crave those hot dogs, cheese fries and ice cream.
Support the mom and pop shops and buy your next pair of kicks at Wagner's Shoe Corral (7379 North Ave, 708-771-4528). Sure, the decor looks like it hasn't had a touchup in thirty years, but that doesn't mean you can't get a good deal on the latest line of footwear. When clothes shopping for the tiny tykes, River Foresters know that the Children's Place (7335 Lake St, 708-366-2390) is the place to go. They have outfits for all occasions for newborns to children up to 10-years-old. Looking for the exotic world look, ladies? Then check out Chico's Fashions (7337 Lake St, 708-366-3979). They stock apparel with the distinctly global flair of African, Asian and South American influences. Hockey fans will want to make a pass through Gunzo's Pure Hockey (7706 Madison St, 708-771-8666) for everything from pads to skates to sticks. If you don't mind the high-pitched sound of Gunzo's skate grinder constantly sharpening blades, it's a great spot for River Forest hockey nuts to get the latest gear and chat with other die-hard ice rink sporters.
For access to downtown Chicago and points beyond, the Metra's Union Pacific/West Line has a station located in River Forest. For travel to and from River Forest by car, the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) is easily accessible from River Forest and is located just south in nearby Forest Park.
There are two universities in River Forest. Dominican University (7900 Division St, 708-366-2490) has been operating here since 1918, when it moved from Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. Originally a private Catholic girls' school, the university gained a reputation in the 20th century with its commitment to civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. Today the co-ed campus offers many undergrad and graduate programs. Concordia University (7400 Augusta St. 708-771-8300) is a Lutheran school established in 1864. Originally founded in Addison, Illinois, the school was relocated to River Forest in 1913. Concordia offers bachelors and masters degrees in a variety of liberal arts programs.