Oak Park is a suburb on the west side of Chicago, Illinois. Not to be overshadowed by the Windy City, Oak Park has a rich culture of its own. First settled in 1873, Oak Park has since become a city inhabited by families and young people alike. It is now the twenty-fifth largest city in Illinois.
When it was first founded, Oak Park had one of the strictest alcohol prohibition laws in the country. The laws weren't loosened until the 1970s for establishments, and stores did not sell packaged liquor until 2002. Fortunately, Oak Park has easy access to downtown Chicago through the public transit system. Clubs and nightlife aren't as popular here as in the neighboring town, but Oak Park is famous for its own cultural development.
Known as a growing arts community, Oak Park is home to numerous museums and art galleries. The Arts District on Harrison is home to unique restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Oak Park also has several dance companies. The Oak Park Art League is a community-based organization that focuses on promoting arts through the community. The League also hosts exhibitions and lectures.
Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent 20 years of his life designing buildings in Oak Park. Arthur Huertley House on Forest Avenue and the Unity Temple are examples of his earlier work. Prairie School architecture, popular in the early 20th century is very prominent in Oak Park. Many architects practicing this style have lived in the city, including George W. Maher and E.E. Roberts. Another architectural landmark worth visiting is the home of Ernest Hemingway, now a museum.
Oak Park also has a large park district. Thirteen parks splay over 80 acres of land. The district is also home to the Oak Park Conservatory, a large botanical garden with many rare plants. Aside from parks, the district is also home to two historical buildings and a seasonal ice rink.
Illinois is known for having some of the best high school in the nation. Seven high schools in this state can induct students into the Cum Laude Society, normally reserved for college students. Oak Park River Forest High School is one such institution. Many notable alumni have attended the two high schools in Oak Park.
If you are planning to visit, spring and fall are the best seasons. Winter temperatures are quite low in Oak Park, with many days reporting below-freezing temperatures all day. Summers in the city are hot and humid, with highs reaching into the 90s.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan