Around the time that Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition, settlement in Parkview began, although it was called Clarkdale then, in honor of a man named Clark who was the area’s primary developer. In the 1880s the Grand Trunk Railroad added Chicago to its eastern line that started in Portland, ME, and a station was opened on what is now the northern tip of Parkview neighborhood. It was expected that, as a result of the depot and the travelers coming through by train, the outlying region would prosper, but in reality development moved at a snail’s pace. A handful of Swedish, Dutch and Irish immigrants settled there following the World’s Fair, but by the turn of the century there were still less than 50 homes in all of Ashburn (which included present-day Parkview).
Parkview and the larger community of Ashburn remained very sparsely inhabited until the 1940s because there were few jobs on the far south side and transportation to and from downtown Chicago was laborious and slow. However, beginning at the time of the United States’ engagement in World War II, the population of Parkview skyrocketed, and with it the housing market surged as well. The number of residents in Ashburn grew from about 1,000 in 1940 to 7,000 in 1950, and then surged to 40,000 by the end of the decade. The reason for the boom was mainly attributed to the arrival of manufacturing jobs in the area spurred by the country’s involvement in the war.
More than anything else, though, the rise of the automobile can be credited with the population growth experienced in Parkview in the middle of the century, both because it provided residents with easy mobility and eventually led to the arrival of several manufacturing plants in neighboring West Lawn, which employed many of the area’s workers. Chrysler opened a Dodge plant in 1943 where engines were manufactured for bomber engines and a Ford plant that opened during the Korean War.
From the turn of the century until the early 1990s, Parkview maintained one of the more demographically homogonous neighborhoods in Chicago, with most residents hailing from Western Europe. However, in the last 15 years, the Parkview neighborhood and greater Ashburn community have seen a large-scale demographic shift, with many of the second- and third-generation European immigrants leaving the community in favor of the southwestern suburbs with Latino and African American families filling the void. Now, Parkview is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in all of Chicago.