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Development Efforts in the 1920s

The efforts to turn Westchester into the "ideal community" in the 1920s involved significant improvements and additions to the area's infrastructure. 

One of the prominent features of the Westchester plan of the 1920s was the village's Civic Center with the village hall, a library, a fountain and a 'cultural hall'.  This center was to be located near the intersection of Mannheim and 22nd Street east of the Chicago, Westchester and Western line.  The illustration to the right was one artist's interpretation of the layout.



The contracts for the Chicago, Westchester and Western line (see Westchester's Rapid Transit Line) was not a minor matter.  Seen here is construction of the station at Harrison Street.

(Photos from the Westchester Tribune, 1926)

The station at Roosevelt Road included an elevated walkway across the tracks to the platform on the opposite side of the tracks.  (Photograph by Charles N. Field)


A Westchester shuttle passes a Chicago Rapid Transit train on the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin line.  This view reveals the wide open nature of the area.  (Photograph by Charles N. Field)


Other changes were made to the rail lines of the area.  The Illinois Central Railroad tracks crossed Roosevelt Road east.  So as to avoid traffic congestion and perform road improvement a viaduct was constructed.  The project was completed without disrupting rail service on the I. C. R. R. line.  (Photo from the Westchester Tribune, 1926)


With the expected (and hoped for) population explosion there was a need for expanded utilities.  One such effort was this extension of the gas main near 22nd Street.  To read more about the available utilities, read the stories at Westchester Tribune Sep 28 1926 page 3 -- Utilities and Westchester Tribune Sep 28 1926 page 7 -- More on Utilities.   (Photo from the Westchester Tribune, 1926)



In 1926 William Zelosky and George Nixon pushed forward with development of Westchester.  But their activity was not isolated to Westchester.  An article from the LaGrange Citizen tells of the sale of some land in Bellwood.  See LaGrange Citizen, 300000 Dollar Westchester Deal, Oct 7 1926.

A picture of the Grant N. Britten school from the 1927-1928 school year shows the electric lines have been run through the nearly treeless prairieland of Westchester.   The view is from the I. C. R. R. embankment. 
(Photograph by Charles N. Field)


To the left is a 1929 panorama photograph looking east (into Broadview) and south from the corner of Chaucer and Mannheim.  This photo was part of advertising campaign by the George F. Nixon & Company, another developer involved in Westchester.  When you click on the thumbnail image, be prepared to scroll to the right.  This is a very  W-I-D-E  picture.  To the right is an enlargement of the advertising sign.  Click on it and read the features offered through the developers of the Metropolitan District Reality Trust.

Before the Depression more than home construction was being advertised.  Here is an ad from the Westchester Tribune in 1926.




This 1928 aerial photograph is of most of the area enclosed by Roosevelt Road (diagonally sloping up from the lower left hand corner), Wolf Road, 22nd Street (Cermak), and Mannheim Road (beyond the left side of the photo).  The area to the west (right) of Mayfair Avenue contains few structures.  The oval drive in the Oakridge Cemetery can be seen in the middle of the picture. 

Improvements on 31st Street were completed in 1928.  Read 31st Paving Open, LaGrange Citizen, Sep 6 1928.

Even after the start of the Great Depression development continue on Westchester.  An article appeared in the December 5, 1929 issue of the "LaGrange Citizen" newspaper about the completion of the first business block.  See LaGrange Citizen,Westchester 1st Business Block Up, Dec 5 1929.

A blowup of the corner of Wolf and Cermak Roads shows the Immanuel Lutheran corner with its church and school.

The 1930s

Village President Grant N. Britten, Village Clerk Ruben N. Nelson and Village Treasurer Wesley Panttila stand next to the Village Hall in 1931.  These three men were prominent Village individuals.  The school shown above was named for President Britten.  Ruben Nelson became Village President in 1937.   His wife Stella was a president of the Westchester PTA.  Ruben and Stella are former residents of the house which is now known as the Franzosenbusch Prairie House.  Wesley Panttila served for many years as the Police Magistrate.

(Photograph by Charles N. Field)

The first village hall had been rented space in the food store building at 1543 Westchester Blvd.  This picture was therefore the second village hall, but the first owned by Village.

The former Zelosky development office became the third village hall (the second owned by the Village).  The thatch roof building stood near the intersection Roosevelt and Balmoral.  This is how it looked in 1939.   The Zelosky office can be seen in the  Westchester Tribune Sep 28 1926 page 5 -- Full Page Ad.

Photographs by Charles N. Field

The 1940s

By 1948 the Village was growing.  Wesley Panttila was the police chief.  He stands proudly with Sergeant Harry Rose and Patrolmen Jim McBride and Ken Thompson.  The viaduct in the background is for the I. C. R. R. line1.  This police force served the community just before the Westchester's post-war "building boom".

(Photograph by Charles N. Field)

The 1950s

The Park and Shop at northeast corner of Mannheim and Cermak (22nd Street) has been a commercial business center since the 1950s.  The Park and Shop had a drug store, a supermarket, a bakery, a delicatessen, a hardware store, a currency exchange, a beauty shop and other specialty stores.

In 1955 Westchester formed its own full-time fire department.  See Westchester Fire Department 1955.

(Photograph from the Martindale News, circa 1960)

See also:

1The Belt RR was formally know as the Indiana Harbor Belt Rail Road.  It is not part of the Illinois Central Rail Road.

Last Modified:  12/18/2006