Dining capital of the North Shore and home to world-renowned Northwestern University, Evanston is the first suburb north of the city adjoining Lake Michigan, and is located just 12 miles from downtown Chicago. With thriving business and commercial districts, rich theater and arts scene, and easy access to Chicago, it offers city-type living in a suburban environment, and remains one of the most desirable places to live in Chicagoland.
The Evanston suburb, located immediately north of Chicago’s city limits, is one of the oldest and largest communities of the North Shore. The town itself grew around the establishment of Northwestern University in 1851—a university that is still widely recognized as one of the best in the nation—with the university’s founders petitioning the county to begin developing Evanston, named for local leader John Evans, three years later. In 1857, the fledgling Evanston suburb split off from Ridgeville Township, and was incorporated in 1863.
The town experienced massive growth immediately after the Civil War—between 1860 and 1870, the population grew four times in size. A second major population boom occurred between 1920 and 1930, with the city growing by over 70 percent. This boom led to the development of the area’s stunning architecture and institutions, many of which still stand in Evanston’s renowned historic districts.
Celebrated for its rich offerings, Evanston has long been known as a dining and cultural mecca along the North Shore. The town is also the birthplace of many an invention and first—in 1939, Evanston hosted the first NCAA basketball championship final at Northwestern University’s Patten Gymnasium. Evanston is also the birthplace of Tinkertoys, the iconic children’s toy that quickly rose to fame in the early 1900s. The town has a sweet history, and is known as one of the first locations to serve an ice cream sundae.
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