Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tourist Attractions: Oak Park

If you love the thought of exploring a village filled with historic homes, beautiful tree-lined streets, sprawling parks and unique shopping experiences, then you might want to consider a visit to Oak Park, Illinois. Oak Park is nestled on the west side of Chicago, just north of I-290 at Harlem Ave. It shelters homes of various significant architectures ranging from Victorian Painted Ladies to Prairie Style to Art Deco.
Read About Oak Park

Oak Park was settled in 1839 when Joseph Kettlestrings, originally from England, built his home there. The settlement grew slowly, but after the Chicago fire in 1871, many people escaped from Chicago city life to this quieter area. It wasn’t until 1902 that Oak Park officially became a village. Since its settlement, this area has been marked by notable people and significant architectural styles.

Frank Lloyd Wright, known for developing Prairie Style architecture, spent the early years of his career in Oak Park, from 1899-1909. His home and studio still stand, along with 25 other buildings designed by this architectural great. Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899 in a small Victorian home on Oak Park Avenue. The streets of this village are dotted with many painted Victorian ladies, reminiscent of days gone by. Interspersed with the Victorian beauties are several Prairie Style homes designed by Wright and his contemporaries. Examples of the 1950’s Art Deco style of architecture may also be found there.

Visitors to Oak Park have many options for whiling away an afternoon. The downtown area provides an array of shopping and eating opportunities. Parking is ample and the village offers a free shuttle service to transport people between popular sites within its boundaries. The Oak Park Visitors Center has a PDA driven, self-guided tour of the exterior of 15 Painted Ladies. People can also visit the Unity Temple, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright or discover Wright’s home and studio. Bookworms might wish to explore Hemingway’s Birthplace and Museum. The Historic Society of Oak Park/River Forest gives tours of their facility, as well. These are just a few of the possibilities available.

Come enjoy a few hours or a full day in Oak Park and discover why this is “The Place They Called Home.”


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