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Map of northeastern Illinois showing the North Shore and surrounding areas.
Chicago, as seen from Northwestern University campus at Evanston.

The North Shore is a term that refers to the affluent lakefront Illinois suburbs north of Chicago such as Winnetka, Highland Park, Evanston, Lake Forest, Glencoe or Kenilworth.[1]

Contents

What is the North Shore?

There is no official definition of the "North Shore." Although scholars define the North Shore as comprising only those lakefront suburbs fully or substantially developed before World War II (and certainly prior to the 1963 demise of the North Shore rail line), general usage may also include the younger post-World War II inland suburbs.

  • Michael Ebner's scholarly Creating Chicago's North Shore: A Suburban History focuses on eight suburbs on the lake: Evanston, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Glencoe, Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff.[2]
  • In their North Shore Chicago: Houses of the Lakefront Suburbs, 1890-1940, Cohen and Benjamin include not only those eight suburbs but also "the tiny city of Highwood," just north of Highland Park.[3]

However, in general use, the North Shore may also include several of the inland suburbs close to Chicago.

  • North Shore magazine has special advertising editions not only for Evanston, Winnetka, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff but also for inland suburbs such as Glenview, Northbrook, Barrington, Deerfield, Bannockburn, and Riverwoods.[4]
  • Chicago's North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau's focus is on Evanston (on the lake) as well as Glenview, Northbrook, and Skokie (just west of Evanston).[5]

The North Shore is noteworthy for being one of the few remaining agglomerations of streetcar suburbs in the United States.

The North Shore is also the home of the Ravinia Festival, a world-class outdoor music theater. The Green Bay Trail, an award-winning pedestrian and bicycle path, begins in Wilmette and runs north just to the east of the Chicago Botanic Garden and past the front gate of Ravinia Festival park all the way up to Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, alongside Metra's Union Pacific North Line railroad tracks.

History

Many credit Walter S. Gurnee as the father of the North Shore

Europeans settled the North Shore after an 1833 treaty with local Native Americans. The region began to flourish after two-term Chicago Mayor Walter S. Gurnee made numerous investments along the western shore of Lake Michigan, gaining great influence in the area. For instance, he helped to create the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad, a commuter train service to Chicago which allowed people to move out of the city. While trains ran from Chicago all the way to Milwaukee, the term "North Shore" typically refers only to the communities between Waukegan (or perhaps Zion) and Chicago.

This area became popular with the affluent wanting to escape urban life and grew before and especially just after World War II. Large mansions were built, along with less lavish homes. The largest North Shore suburb Evanston, the closest to Chicago, is the home of Northwestern University.

Today the North Shore remains one of the most affluent areas in the United States. Seven of its communities are in the top quintile of U.S. household income, and three of those (Kenilworth, Winnetka and Glencoe) are in the top 5 percent. From Evanston to Lake Bluff, only Highwood falls below the national median.

CNSM public timetable 19410209.jpg

Municipalities on the North Shore

The now-defunct Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad served the following suburbs (from north to south):

Movies that take place in the North Shore

This area received much exposure in the 1980s as the setting of many teen movies, particularly those of writer/director John Hughes. The most notable movies through the years are:

  • Ordinary People (1980) - was filmed in Highwood, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook and Wilmette.
  • Class (1983) - was filmed at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest and other locations in Chicago.
  • Risky Business (1983) - was filmed in Deerfield, Highland Park and Skokie.
  • Sixteen Candles (1984) - was filmed in Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Skokie and Winnetka.
  • Weird Science (1985) was filmed in Highland Park, Skokie and Northbrook.
  • The Breakfast Club (1985) - was filmed in Des Plaines at Maine North High School.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off' (1986) - was filmed in Highland Park, Winnetka, Northbrook, Lake Forest and Glencoe, in addition to many locations in Chicago itself.
  • She's Having a Baby (1988) - was filmed in Winnetka, Skokie, Glencoe and Northbrook in addition to many locations in Chicago itself.
  • Uncle Buck (1989) - was filmed in Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka, in addition to many locations in Chicago itself.
  • Home Alone (1990) - was filmed in Lake Forest, Winnetka, Wilmette, Highland Park and Evanston.
  • Chain Reaction (1996) has scenes at a famous Lake Bluff estate and was largely shot in downtown Chicago
  • Shattered Glass (2003)
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
  • Surviving Christmas (2004)
  • Mean Girls (2004)
  • Derailed (2005)
  • The Weather Man (2005) - was filmed in Evanston and Skokie in addition to many locations in Chicago itself.
  • Chicago's North Shore, a documentary by Geoffrey Bear‏

Places of interest

References

  1. ^ Ebner, p. xxviii.
  2. ^ Ebner, p. xvii.
  3. ^ Cohen and Benjamin, p. 44.
  4. ^ North Shore magazine, accessed 15 Dec 2009.
  5. ^ Chicago's North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau, accessed 15 Dec 2009.
  • Cohen, Stuart Earl and Susan S. Benjamin (2004) North Shore Chicago: houses of the lakefront suburbs, 1890-1940, Acanthus Press, ISBN 9780926494268.
  • Ebner, Michael H. Creating Chicago’s North Shore. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988.
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