Defining Norwood Park

Norwood Park Subdivision

In 1868-1869, the Norwood Land and Building Association (NLBA) purchased a group of farms bounded by streets now known as Nagle and Milwaukee Avenues (north of Devon), Harlem and Bryn Mawr Avenues, and St. Adalbert Cemetery. Their goal was to create a moral, healthy, and beautifully landscaped suburban subdivision. An 1868 novel by Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, Norwood; Or, Village Life in New England, served as the inspiration for both the name and the idealistic vision of Norwood. However, the NLBA chose to change the subdivision name to Norwood Park because the US Postal Service noted that another Norwood, Illinois, already existed in Illinois.

Norwood Park Township

To have more control over local government decisions, a small, independent Norwood Park Township was created at the intersection of four corners of four existing townships. In addition to the proposed Village of Norwood Park, the new township included adjacent farms and subdivisions that wanted to attach themselves to the Village and several farms along present-day Harlem Avenue whose owners wanted some of the local roads to go north and south, not only diagonally into downtown Chicago.

Constituting about nine square miles, most of the new township was composed of parts of Leyden and Jefferson Townships, bounded by present-day Cumberland, Austin, and Devon Avenues, and Irving Park Road. In addition, a small corner of Maine Township’s southeast corner (the Blume family farm) and the southwest corner of Niles Township between Harlem and Milwaukee Avenues, south of St. Adalbert Cemetery, was included. The township creation was approved in 1873 by Cook County, but legal issues delayed final approval until a state law enabled it in 1874.

Most of the original Norwood Park Township was annexed to the City of Chicago in 1893. However, several fragments of the Township were not annexed to Chicago. Unincorporated Norwood Park Township and the municipalities of Harwood Heights and parts of Norridge and Park Ridge remain in the Township and share some government services.

Norwood Park Village and Annexation to Chicago

Once the Township of Norwood Park had been established, the residents of the Norwood Park subdivision were free to form a village. The Village of Norwood Park was incorporated on July 25, 1874. Subsequently, several subdivisions and adjacent farms expressed interest in joining the Village. After nearly twenty years as an independent village, a special election was held on November 7, 1893, at which time voters approved annexation to the City of Chicago by a vote of 124 to 27.

Norwood Park Community Area 10 (CA 10)

In the nineteenth century, ward boundaries were used to organize census data, but as population changed so did ward boundaries, making demographic analysis over time meaningless. By the mid-1920s, Chicago needed a new method to analyze demographic information and changes, resulting in the creation of Chicago’s 75 Community Areas. Since that time, there have been only two significant changes to the Community Area map.  O’Hare (CA 76) was added to include a group of later annexations to the City of Chicago and Edgewater (CA 77) was separated from Uptown (CA 3). In addition to census data, Community Area data are collected and analyzed regularly by urban scholars and planners.

Norwood Park is Community Area 10. In addition to the original Village, it contains adjacent unincorporated areas which were subsequently annexed to the City of Chicago, primarily after World War I. These included the Talcott Avenue properties belonging to the Sisters of the Resurrection and the Oriole Park, Foster-Harlem, Union Ridge Cemetery and Big Oaks areas.

The approximate boundaries of Norwood Park Community Area 10 are the Chicago River, Austin, and Nagle Avenues on the east; Bryn Mawr, Gunnison, and Foster Avenues on the south; Cumberland and Canfield Avenues on the west; and Higgins and Devon Avenues, St. Adalbert Cemetery, and the Chicago River on the north.

Norwood Park Neighborhoods

In the 1980s, research conducted by the City of Chicago sought to identify neighborhoods within each Community Area. Although neighborhoods were identified and mapped, they are not in any way official or used for data analysis. Neighborhood names and boundaries change over time; sometimes they are simply the product of creative real estate marketing. Currently, there are six neighborhoods in Norwood Park: Old Norwood, Norwood Park East, Norwood Park West, Big Oaks, Oriole Park, and Union Ridge.