Downtown Western Springs … 50 Years Ago

Even if you’ve lived in the village all your life, you may be surprised to see some of the ways our downtown has changed.

Burlington & Lawn looking East – circa 1964
Burlington & Lawn looking East – circa 1964

While Western Springs has always been known for its quaint downtown, it has still changed dramatically during the past 50 years.

As shown in the photo above, traffic congestion was a frequent occurrence due to the narrow width of Burlington Avenue. The familiar brick retaining wall along the railroad tracks had not yet been built, so there wasn’t sufficient room for angle parking on both sides of the street. In fact, to relieve the congestion, the village considered designating Hillgrove as an eastbound one-way street and Burlington one-way westbound!

Look closely and you’ll also see some street lights that look like they came from the 1930’s.  And, did you notice the three concrete steps from the stores down to street level?  Those would not be eliminated until the 1990’s when the Village actually raised Burlington Avenue to its present elevation. 

And, if you study the photo, you’ll also note the absence of trees the entire length of Burlington Avenue and the presence of utility poles along Hillgrove Avenue. 

Speaking of Hillgrove, if you’re a long-time resident of the village, you’ll remember Keil’s Drug Store located in the center of the block, most recently home to The Competitive Foot.  And, who could forget the Standard Oil station on the northwest corner of Wolf Road, which offered S&H Green Stamps with each gasoline purchase.

One thing hasn’t changed … the Village True Value Hardware store (foreground). Although the west-facing window was bricked up some years back, the store is one of the town’s oldest and most successful businesses. And, yes, they still sell Sakrete cement mix!   

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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