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40 Years Ago, Ridgewood Joined Western Springs

Built in the late 1950’s, the Ridgewood subdivision was part of unincorporated Cook County for many years. And, its 1974 annexation to Western Springs didn’t come easily

Village Employees Welcoming Ridgewood Residents
Village Employees Welcoming Ridgewood Residents

In 1956, Teninga and Company of Chicago proposed developing a 90-acre tract of property south of 55th Street and West of Wolf Road. It was to be called “Ridgewood”. At the very outset, the developers sought to have the area incorporated into Western Springs.

 

Despite this, there was little interest on the part of the Western Springs Village Board. There was a feeling that the village was growing “too fast”, having just embarked on the Springdale subdivision. 

 

In 1961, the Village Board looked at the issue again and decided to send an opinion survey to Ridgewood residents. The results were surprising. Some 66% of residents stated that they did not expect or want to be annexed. But, if annexation were to take place, 63% did favor Western Springs over other adjacent communities. Ridgewood residents also rated various “quality of life” issues in their subdivision. The lowest ratings were for their current police protection, street lighting, street maintenance, and parks.

 

Over time, Ridgewood residents apparently changed their minds about annexation. In 1973, more than 80% of Ridgewood’s 291 homeowners signed a petition for annexation, which was filed with the Circuit Court. Now, the ball was placed squarely in Western Springs’ court.

 

On October 15, after four months of study, the Western Springs Village Board voted unanimously to annex Ridgewood.  Following the Board’s decision, all Western Springs voters were asked to respond to a referendum slated for December 8. Among the information presented to the voters was the fact that resulting property taxes from the subdivision would more than outweigh the annual cost of providing new services. The annexation would also allow the Village to better control the growth of nearby condominiums.

 

With 1,485 residents voting “for” and just 400 “against”, Western Springs overwhelmingly welcomed Ridgewood residents into the Village.

 

The Western Springs Village Board declared January 19, 1974 as “Ridgewood Day”.  Letters were sent to each Ridgewood household inviting them to an open house at all village facilities (e.g., fire station, police station, Village Hall) between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.  In addition, “Welcome Ridgewood” banners were placed on the historic water tower and the Thomas Ford Library. Many merchants also followed suit. See photo.

 

Soon after this, other changes began to take place. Western Springs police cars began patrolling the subdivision and other services, such as fire protection and street maintenance, were transferred to the Village. The subdivision also became part of the Western Springs Park District and began receiving its water supply from the Village. And, in 2011 the town’s second fire station opened at 55th and Grand Avenue, right at the entrance to Ridgewood.


Each week, the Western Springs Historical Society presents a “Blast from the Past”. To view prior stories, visit us at www.westernspringshistory.org. 

 

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