Downtown Crystal Lake
|Motto: A Good Place To Live|
|Nickname: The Big CL|
|Elevation||942 ft (287 m)|
|Area||22.9 sq mi (59 km2)|
|- land||22 sq mi (57 km2)|
|- water||0.9 sq mi (2 km2)|
|- metro||43.6 sq mi (113 km2)|
|Population||41,797 (2008 est.)|
|Density||2,726 /sq mi (1,053 /km2)|
|Founded||Adoption of city charter|
|Date||September 23, 1914|
|- location||100 West Municipal Complex|
|Mayor||Aaron T. Shepley, since 5/1999|
|- summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|Postal code||60012, 60014, 60039|
|Area code||815, 779|
Location of Crystal Lake within Illinois
|Wikimedia Commons: Crystal Lake, Illinois|
Crystal Lake is a city located in southeastern McHenry County in northeastern Illinois. It is named after Crystal Lake, a lake 1.6 miles (2.6 km) west-southwest of downtown. Crystal Lake is also a suburb of the city of Chicago. The population was 38,000 at the 2000 census, but as of 2008 the population is at 41,797. Crystal Lake is the biggest city in McHenry County.
The City of Crystal Lake traces its origin to two separate communities which were established in the 1800s. Those communities were generally known as Nunda and Crystal Lake. In 1835, Ziba S. Beardsley had come to the shores of the lake and commented that the “waters were as clear as crystal”, thereby giving the lake its name. Ziba Beardsley continued south to Naperville. In February 1836, the first white settlers, Beman and Polly Crandall and six of their ten children, came from New York State traveling to Crystal Lake in a covered wagon. Their original cabin was built in the vicinity of today's intersection of Virginia Street and Van Buren Street. Four of the Crandall children were born there. Najah Beardsley’s family was the second to settle in the area; his grandson, William Beardsley, was the first white child born on the Crystal Lake prairie, on May 7, 1837.
The town was first known as Crystal Ville. It was changed to Crystal Lake sometime before 1840. The area known today as downtown Crystal Lake was first called Dearborn and later, Nunda, from an area in New York where many settlers originated. The village of Dearborn was founded in the 1850s after an extension of railroads through the area. The first train station was built in 1856, although it was pre-fabricated and shipped from Chicago on a flatcar. At that time, the main business district for the village of Crystal Lake was located on Virginia Street, about one mile southwest of the railroad station. The railroad served to connect both the people and industries of Crystal Lake and Dearborn to Chicago and the rest of the country. Dearborn grew quickly due to this new rail connection.
On October 7, 1868, Dearborn’s name was changed to Nunda. The village was platted in 1868 by local surveyor, John Brink, after whom a downtown street is now named. The village included the area now generally bounded by Illinois Route 176 on the north, Crystal Lake Avenue on the south, Main Street on the east, and Walkup Avenue on the west. Much of the land was originally owned by two early settlers, Daniel Ellsworth and Simon S. Gates. The villages of Crystal Lake and Nunda were both incorporated in 1874. In 1908, the name of the village of Nunda changed its name to North Crystal Lake. Several attempts were made to consolidate the two villages, and finally, after much disagreement, the village of North Crystal Lake was annexed to the Village of Crystal Lake in 1914, and a consolidated city government was established.
Back in the 1860s, when the town of Crystal Lake was about 25 years old, Charles S. Dole purchased over 1,000 acres (4 km²) of land overlooking the lake. It was his dream to construct an elaborate estate that would reflect his position as a successful businessman. He was an early member of the Chicago Board of Trade, being associated with Armour, Dole & Co. in Chicago. To carry out his plan, he built a three-story mansion with adjoining gardens and stables. European craftsmen were imported to lay parquet floors, fashion archways and carve interior wood work from black walnut trees grown on the property. As a final touch, he brought in Italian artisans to build several marble fireplaces. According to Mr. Dole's obituary, construction costs exceeded $100,000, an enormous amount of money in those days.
The estate was known as Lakeland Farm. Mr. Dole lived there with his wife Julia, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Harriet Coffin, his two daughters, Mary Florence, Harriet (Hattie), and son, Sydney. Dole maintained the estate for over 30 years, entertaining lavishly. As an example, for his daughter's wedding in 1883 he built a spur line from the Chicago and Northwestern railway tracks almost to his doorstep. A canopied and carpeted walkway extended 750 feet from the front door to the train enabling the guests to walk to the mansion for the ceremony and return to the train without concern for the weather. Notable wedding guests included Julian Rumsey (mayor of Chicago and Dole's first cousin) and Levi Leiter (first partner with Marshall Field).
Mr. Dole's interests changed throughout the years. He laid out a half-mile racetrack on his property and purchased the finest horses that money could buy, soon accumulating a string of horses that was the envy of northern Illinois. It is said that Mr. Dole loved to go up in his tower (currently closed off) and watch his horses run. When tired of the fad of his stable, he disposed of his beautiful and valuable horses by holding an elaborate sale. The Doles lived in the mansion until the late 1890s when the property was sold to his son in law for $1.00.
During the early 1900s, the property was owned and operated by several different ice companies. Ice was harvested from Crystal Lake and shipped by rail to nearby Chicago. The advent of refrigeration brought about the decline of the ice business. After laying vacant for several years, the property was sold in 1922 to the Lake Development Company. Today The Dole Mansion is owned by the Lakeside Legacy, along with Lakeside center, which is the building connected to The Dole Mansion. Dole mansion is located along the lake, and there is a festival held on the grounds every year.
Ringling Road is an east-west road which curves from Country Club Road back up to Lake Avenue. There are less than one dozen houses that claim a Ringling Road address; but those houses range from a small, stone cottage to large, imposing mansions. It is no mistake that Ringling Road provides the northern boundary for the Dole Mansion property. The road was named after Eliza “Lou” Ringling who, as founder of the Lake Development Company, purchased the Dole Mansion in 1922 and converted it into the first Crystal Lake Country Club. The transaction involved nearly a half million dollars and was one of the largest real estate deals handled in the area. The original Crystal Lake Country Club faltered in the stock market crash of 1929, and Mrs. Ringling, with her group of investors (the Lake Development Company) subdivided much of the large Dole estate into what is known as the Country Club Additions subdivision.
Eliza “Lou” Ringling was the widow of the oldest Ringling brother, of circus fame.
The American Terra Cotta Tile and Ceramic Company was founded in 1881 just north of Crystal Lake, Illinois. Most of the workers at the tile and ceramic works factory came from Crystal Lake, in the style of the Prairie School. Several existing buildings in Crystal Lake's historic downtown display this architectural glazed terra cotta.
In 1886, the Gates Pottery was established as a subsidiary with William D. Gates, a Crystal Lake area native as its president. Gates used the facilities to experiment with clays and glazes in an effort to design a line of art pottery which led to the introduction of Teco pottery (from TErra COtta) in 1902. Many of the pottery pieces were designed by famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and today is highly sought after by art collectors. Teco pottery is in the collection of many museums.
On April 11, 1965, during the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, a large and devastating tornado damaged or destroyed large portions of the city. Six people were killed by the tornado, and a further 75 wounded. Damages in the city totaled over $1.5 million, as 80 homes and a shopping center were completely destroyed. Disaster shelters were set up to house the homeless, and then-governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner, Jr., personally visited the city to view the damage.
In the past twenty years, the history of Crystal Lake has consisted mainly of the growing of suburban subdivisions, as the population increased to 38,000 in the 2000 Census from 21,823 in the 1990 Census. In order to deal with the growth, Crystal Lake South High School was opened in 1978. Previously, Crystal Lake Community High School (now Crystal Lake Central High School) had served the entire city of Crystal Lake since 1924. Even more recently a third high school, Prairie Ridge High School, opened in 1997 north of the city to accommodate the spread moving into the area between Crystal Lake and the two communities directly to its north, Prairie Grove and Bull Valley.
Some challenges currently facing the city of Crystal Lake include a large and sudden increase in immigration, and an inconvenient road system leading to frequently snarled traffic. However, the overall quality of life and education in the city remains quite high. In addition, a robust city park system and continued revitalization of the downtown area, including a new city hall, have continued to make Crystal Lake an attractive community for new residents. Another positive note for the city is that Crystal Lake is the city where the tradition of giving gold coins to the Salvation Army anonymously began in 1982.
There was a small controversy in the community in February 2006, when it was announced that the Gay Games, which were scheduled to begin July 15, 2006 in Chicago, were seeking to hold the rowing events on Crystal Lake. It was claimed without evidence that the lake is one of only a few lakes in the Chicago area that to be suitable to hold such events because of the lake's length, width, and shape. However, some in Crystal Lake were opposed to the events. On March 2, 2006, the Crystal Lake Park District voted to reject the Gay Games' application to use the lake for their rowing events, after a meeting where over one hundred residents spoke before the board. The dissenting votes were cast due to issues regarding overuse of the lake and who would pay for the staging, cleanup, and policing of the event. The vote was 2-2, as Crystal Lake Park District President Jerry Sullivan was absent. The deadlocked issue was considered dead. The Gay Games indicated they might seek legal action against the city and the Park District, citing a recently-passed Illinois law which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation.
However, the very next day, March 3, 2006, the president of the Crystal Lake Park District, Jerry Sullivan, who had been on vacation in Mexico, returned and set aside the previous night's vote, and set a new meeting for March 7, 2006. The meeting was held in a local banquet hall in anticipation of great attendance, but the hall proved too small, as many people were turned away and cars had to be assigned to an overflow parking lot. The result of the single-issue, four-hour meeting was a 3 to 2 vote allowing the use of the lake for the Gay Games. Several weeks later, in April, the Crystal Lake city council approved the event by a vote of 6 to 1, as mayor Aaron Shepley sharply reined in any discussions of morality. The next week, the Lakewood board of village trustees also approved the event, allowing the Gay Games to take place as originally planned. The community remained divided over the event. The rowing competition took place as scheduled on July 16, with no altercations between the estimated 650 spectators and 15 protesters. Organizers of the games said they considered the protests to be a non-event and that the Crystal Lake crowd was one of the largest at any July 16 event.
Crystal Lake has distinct neighborhoods. As the largest city in McHenry County, it contains three high schools, and has many separate neighborhoods. Because many adults work out of town, notably in Chicago, social life in Crystal Lake is determined largely by whom people's children go to school with, and who lives nearby.
Starting from the north of the city, the ten neighborhoods are easy to trace out. The first has no de facto name like the others, but is referred to as "by Prairie Ridge", referring to the nearby high school of the same name. Houses in this neighborhood are large and widely spaced. The entire area lies just to the north of the city, from the downtown area to the adjacent community of Bull Valley. Next is downtown Crystal Lake, which rings Crystal Lake Central High School. Houses here range greatly in size and age, and it is the most diverse neighborhood in the city. Directly south of downtown Crystal Lake is the Coventry neighborhood, named for the major through street Coventry Lane. Students in the Coventry neighborhood attend either Central High School of Crystal Lake or Crystal Lake South High School. Oral tradition holds that Coventry was originally populated by pilots who fly out of O'Hare Airport.
To the southwest of downtown Crystal Lake is the sprawling Four Colonies neighborhood, which covers nearly 2.5 sq mi. Students from Four Colonies attend both Central and South High School. South of Four Colonies is The Villages neighborhood, which is named for its major thoroughfare, Village Road. An important feature of The Villages is Indian Prairie Elementary School, which is built on a large and steep series of hills that is a favorite sledding location during the snowy months. The residents attend South High School. A neighborhood Northeast of Four Colonies is Wedgewood. Wedgewood includes five ponds, and a forest that backs up to Huntley Road, with a paved walking path. Wedgewood has 5 brick entrance signs saying "Wedgewood", and 3 prominent entrances; the front entrance on Huntley Road's intersection with Lakeview Drive, the back entrance on Huntley Road's intersection with Boneset Drive, and the side entrance on Country Club Road. Wedgewood consists of Single Family Homes, and Villas. Wedgewood Drive circles the whole neighborhood, and is a 1 1/2 mile circle. Wedgewood has beautiful large homes, and villas.
Other neighborhoods in Crystal Lake ring the town's namesake lake, and are called West End, North Shore, and the Vista. These neighborhoods consist of many older homes built on the lakeshore, and vary greatly in size and style.
The city's climate is much like that of its large neighboring city, Chicago. The city experiences hot summers and cold winters, with temperatures slightly more extreme than those of closer suburbs, because rural land still surrounds the city. Due to the lack of the urban heat island effect, Crystal Lake experiences colder nights and lower precipitation than recorded at Chicago. High temperatures are usually comparable to those in Chicago, with only a few degrees difference on most days.
The hottest month of the year is July, when the average high temperature is approximately 86 °F (30 °C). Temperatures in July, and in summer in general, can frequently exceed 95 °F (35 °C), and occasionally exceed 100 °F (39 °C), although this does not happen each year. The coldest month of the year is January, where the average high temperature is 23 °F (−5 °C). Overnight low temperatures are usually around 8 °F (−12 °C). In winter, the low temperatures fall below 0 °F (−18 °C) on many (often as many as fifteen or twenty) occasions per year. Extremely cold nights may record temperatures as low as −20 °F (−29 °C) or lower, but this is rare and does not happen each year.
The wettest month of the year is August, when thunderstorms contribute brief, heavy downpours of rain. July is the second wettest month of the year, also mainly due to thunderstorms. However, long dry spells can also occur at this time of year, sometimes lasting weeks. The two driest months of the year are January and February, where almost all of the precipitation falls as snow. In a typical year, total precipitation is 37 in (940 mm) with a winter snowfall total of 40 in (102 cm). Large snowstorms, although rare, do occur. In many years, at least one storm will deliver 12 in (30 cm) of snow in one day. Most snow-bearing systems are Alberta Clippers, while the more infrequent heavy snows are caused by Panhandle Hooks.
Aaron T. Shepley is the mayor of Crystal Lake. Mr. Shepley has been the mayor since May 1999. He is a runner and cyclist. He is husband to his wife Regan and father to daughters Maddy and Chase.
The city council consists of Ellen Brady Mueller, Ralph M. Dawson, Cathy A. Ferguson, Carolyn Schofield, Brett Hopkins, and Jeffrey T. Thorsen.
Nick Kachiroubas is the City Clerk in Crystal Lake.
According to the 2000 Census there were 38,000 people, 13,000 households, and 9,900 families living in Crystal Lake. The population density was 900/km² (2,300/sq mi). There were 13,500 housing units at an average density of 830/sq mi (320/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94% white, 0.56% black, 0.16% Native American, 2% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2% from other races, and 1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7% of the population.
45% of the households included children under 18, 64% were married couples living together, 8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25% were non-families. 20% of all households were made up of individuals and 8% had someone at least 65 years old living alone. The average household size was 2.9 and the average family size was 3.4.
In the city the population was spread out with 32% under the age of 18, 7% from 18 to 24, 33% from 25 to 44, 20% from 45 to 64, and 9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $67,000, and the median income for a family was $75,000, these figures had risen to $69,816 and $84,935 respectively as of a 2007 estimate. Males had a median income of $52,000 versus $32,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,000. About 3% of families and 4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3% of those under age 18 and 4% of those age 65 or over.
In the past decade the population of Latinos was at 0.1% at the 1990 Census. Now according to the 2000 US Census the population of Latinos/Hispanic for Crystal Lake is at 7%. This large increase among the Latino/Hispanic population has brought new and unique Latin customs to the City, such as stores, restaurants, businesses, music etc. An example is the La Rosita Canicerias on N. Main St. in downtown, where people of Latino and Hispanic descent can purchase food, and other items from Latin American countries.. One Mexican restaurant that has one of the highest ratings in Crystal Lake among Latino/Hispanic food is Taqueria las Cumbres which is located on 93 Grant St. in Downtown Crystal Lake.. The Latin music has had an effect on the city as well as over hundred Latin bands and artists ready to play for the Crystal Lake city and surrounding area..Also Spanish newspapers can also be found in the city. The popular Spanish newspaper called Reflejos (based out of Elgin, IL) is a widely popular Spanish newspaper among Spanish speakers and people of Latino/Hispanic decent..
Crystal Lake, as a city, is large enough to entertain its own cultural institutions. However, it also shares many cultural opportunities with the city of Chicago, and the other large communities which surround it, as they are easily accessible from Crystal Lake, and vice versa. The city is home to the Northwest Herald, the only daily newspaper published in McHenry County. The newspaper deals mainly with local issues, but also carries national and world news. Churches are also a large influence within the city, hosting many annual events. Crystal Lake is also home to radio stations WZSR-FM, STAR 105.5 and WWYW-FM, Y 103.9, owned by NextMedia Incorporated. These radio stations broadcast throughout the northwest suburbs and Fox Valley.
Another large presence in the city is the Crystal Lake Park District, which runs all of the city's numerous parks and the yearly events which take place within them. Two major parks run by the park district are Veterans Acres, along Walkup Road, and Main Beach, along the namesake Crystal Lake. Crystal Lake is open whenever weather is accommodating. However, boating is often restricted due to disputes with both the homeowners on the lake, as well as the city of Lakewood, in which approximately 30% of the lake lies. Near Crystal Lake lies the famed Dole mansion, where visitors can take tours for a small donation.
Among the city's sites of interest is the historic downtown district. The downtown district, which recently has undergone a revitalization, is home to many small specialty shops and businesses, and is a popular local shopping district. Also located in the downtown district is the Raue Center for the Performing Arts, which seats 750 and performs plays and hosts concerts throughout the year. Raue Center has recently transformed itself into a regional destination spot by providing a Jazz Festival launched by Ramsey Lewis and hosting several recent Tony Winners. The city is also home to the Crystal Lake Striker's, Crystal Lake Community Band and Voices in Harmony (formerly, The Crystal Lake Community Choir).
A 457-meter-tall free-standing radio tower is planned at Crystal Lake.
The economy of Crystal Lake is fairly decentralized, as there is central industry within the city. There are several large companies, but none of them is a majority employer. The main economic activities in the city are retail, dining, and light industry. This includes small, specialized, local-owned shops and restaurants as well as broader-ranged national chains. There are several industrial parks in Crystal Lake, which are full of small, independently-owned businesses which engage in various industries, such as landscaping or automotive repair.
The shopping center for most of Crystal Lake centers around "the strip", a long stretch of road that runs along what once used to be Crystal Pointe Mall but is now a series of strip malls. The strip is located on Rt. 14 between Rt. 31 and Dole Ave. As the name suggests, this area has mostly national chains. Another major shopping area is the downtown district, which is where most of the small independent stores are located.
If any particular industry could be called prevalent, the city of Crystal Lake has a disproportionate number of car dealerships, and the south side of the city features several gravel quarries. Some of these quarries are already exhausted, and have been allowed to fill with water, forming an area known as the Vulcan Lakes. Redevelopment plans for the quarries are still pending, but the city has expressed an interest in turning the lakes into a park and recreation area.
An approval for a hospital for Crystal Lake was given by the board in Springfield, but has since met opposition. Illinois State law forbids the construction of new hospitals with less than 100 beds. The proposed Crystal Lake Hospital would hold 80-95 beds and be run by a Wisconsin corporation. Opposition from hospitals in Lake Barrington, Woodstock, McHenry and Elgin were immediately voiced and it remains to be seen just when the hospital will be built.
The city of Crystal Lake has an unusual system of educational organization, as the high schools in the city are in a different school district than the middle schools and elementary schools. High schools in the city are run by Community High School District 155, which runs four high schools, including all three in the city of Crystal Lake. District 47 runs all middle schools and elementary schools in the city of Crystal Lake. The two districts are completely independent, having different budgets and administrations, including different superintendents. Prairie Grove Consolidated School District #46 also serves a portion of northeast Crystal Lake.
There are three high schools which serve the city of Crystal Lake. The oldest, Crystal Lake Central High School (Central for short), graduated its first class in 1924 and was known as Crystal Lake Community High School when it opened. It is located in the downtown area of the city, and has an enrollment of approximately 1300. In response to pressures from increasing population, Crystal Lake South High School (South for short), was opened in 1978. When it was completed, the school was ridiculed for being remotely located and surrounded by corn fields. It now stands boxed in by suburban development. Prairie Ridge High School (often simply called PR) opened in the fall of 1997, again due to increasing population pressure. The school stands on a hill off to the north of the city.
Crystal Lake is home to ten elementary schools and three four schools. Three of the elementary schools have been constructed since 1990 due to the increasing expansion of suburban developments. The names of the nine elementary schools include:
There are four middle schools in Crystal Lake:
There is one college in Crystal Lake: McHenry County College offers associate degrees and currently has plans to build on to the college.
The City of Crystal Lake serves many modes of public transportation. The Metra Rail Union Pacific Northwest Line makes it easier for residents of Crystal Lake to get to the Windy City.There are many Taxi cab services within the city.The Taxi cab services that mainly serve the city are known as Crystal Lake Cab Co., Crystal Lake Taxi Services,& American Dependable. Also serving Crystal Lake is the Pace Bus system, which is the owned by the RTA (Regional Transit Authority) but mainly serving its suburbs.Crystal Lake, Illinois, located 50 miles northwest of Chicago, is a short drive from O'Hare International Airport, near several major highways and interstates. The Union Pacific rail line provides easy access to Chicago. As a result, Crystal Lake residents enjoy the many employment, cultural and recreational opportunities of a major metro city, yet live in a pleasant, friendly, small-town atmosphere.