The Edgebrook neighborhood stands on land once inhabited by the Miami, and later the Potawatomi, Native American tribes. In 1828, the U.S. government granted the 1600-acre tract of land (including what are now the Chicago neighborhoods Edgebrook, South Edgebrook, Forest Glen, and Sauganash) to Billy Caldwell, a Potawatomi chief of Mohawk Indian and Irish ancestry.
Caldwell had mediated several treaties between the United States and the Potawatomi, and the land was his reward for a job well done. When Caldwell moved to Iowa, he sold the property to farmers, and the area was annexed to the city of Chicago in 1889. A new railroad station at Edgebrook roused residential development, but due to the region’s seclusion, home building didn’t really take off until the 1920s.
Today, Edgebrook is still overwhelmingly residential, with just a bit of industry. Among Chicago’s wealthier neighborhoods, Edgebrook attracts city workers and their families—and others who want to be closer to nature yet still within the city’s boundaries.
Edgebrook’s Native American heritage lives on in street names like Hiawatha, Sioux, Dowagiac (Potawatomi for "foraging ground"), Nokomis (Ojibwe for "my grandmother"), and many more. Two streets in the area are named in honor of Billy Caldwell: Caldwell Avenue and Sauganash Avenue, as Sauganash ("the Englishman") was Caldwell’s Native American name.
In 1998, the Chicago Commission on Landmarks designated Old Edgebrook (bounded by Central and Devon avenues, the Chicago River, and the Edgebrook Golf Course) as a landmark district. Take a walk through this northwest side sanctuary surrounded by forest preserves, and you’ll forget you’re in a major metropolitan area. Back in 1894, the region was platted as a railroad suburb and attracted many railroad company workers, some of whom built beautiful mansions for their families. These Old Edgebrook homes are still around today. The manors sit on giant lots and embrace a variety of architectural styles, including Colonial Revival and Queen Anne. The Edgebrook Historical Society (6173 N McClellan Ave, 773-774-4651) offers a walking tour of the neighborhood that features fascinating histories of some of the time-honored residences.