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Chicago's Finest Suburbs: A Brief History

In 1674, Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, with the help of local Native Americans, discovered greater Chicago. More than 100 years later, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable founded the first permanent settlement, capitalizing on the geography; it was the ideal location for a trading settlement, situated directly on Lake Michigan, which is connected to the Mississippi River by the Chicago River. Little did he know that, less than a century after the settlement was founded, Chicago would be home to more than 300,000 residents.

Chicago had arrived, and with it came the need to expand. On account of rising land costs in the city and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicagoans began to look outside of the city's borders, and what they found eventually became what is known as the greater Chicago area.

Today, Chicago's is home to some of the country's greatest suburbs - if you don't believe it, just check out the list below. With rich histories, cultural attractions and diversity, Chicago's many suburbs are often the ideal compromise - suburban living without sacrificing everything Chicago has to offer.

Aurora

In 1834, Joseph and Samuel McCarty came west with an idea. They were looking for the ideal spot for a mill and found it on the Fox River in what would later become Illinois. The next several years saw quick development as more settlers moved in, squatting at first and then purchasing tracts of land for just $5.00. It soon became a major stopping point for stagecoaches heading west from Chicago.

In 1849, Aurora had a stroke of good luck; the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad began to service the town. A few years later, the railroad moved its repair yard there, and the town saw an influx of residents.

Named for the goddess of the dawn, Aurora grew from a tiny frontier gristmill to a leading modern suburb. As the first city in the United States to be lit fully by electricity, Aurora is also known as the "City of Lights."

Home to the Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple, Aurora boasts interesting ethnic celebrations and chances to explore new cultures, such as the annual Aurora Annual Pow-Wow and the Soul Fest, which is celebrated every August. The borough is also home to many U.S. historical sites, like the Paramount Theatre and LeLand Tower, both of which are on the National Register of Historic Places for their parts in the rich history of this town.

Orland Park

In the early 1830s, the area that would become Orland Park was known simply as the English Settlement and boasted two things: a grade school and a Methodist church. Only when the railroad came to town did the area really take off. Today, Orland Park holds the distinction of being the "45th Best Place to Live in America," according to Money magazine. Town economics aren't the only great thing about Orland Park - the city is proud to be home to actor Robin Tunney of Prison Break fame, as well as a slew of professional athletes. After taking a bullet for President Ronald Reagan, Special Agent Tim McCarthy retired from the Secret Service and has served as the Orland Park Police Chief since 1994.

Orland Park offers more than just great neighbors. With more than 60 parks in the aptly-named city, there is no end to the list of fun activities you can enjoy - snowmobiling in winter at the Lake County Forest Preserve, biking in the summer at Avenel Park, and lots more! With each new season, you can look forward to picking up your sports equipment from your storage unit and enjoying the outdoors in Orland Park.

The Orland Park Library is one of the town's prominent features, with over 263,000 catalogued items to enjoy. Take a stroll around the nearby pond and enjoy the library, which has won numerous awards for its architectural design since it opened in 2004. The library also shows films, hosts concerts and community classes, and features world-renowned guest speakers, such as Rosa Parks and Timothy Minnick.

Schaumburg

In the middle of an 1850 discussion over what to call their new village, Frederick Nerge, a prominent citizen, banged his fist down on the table and proclaimed, "It shall be called Schaumburg!" Ever since then, Schaumburg has continued to grow into a bustling suburb that celebrates its past.

Schaumburg has a rich history that you can still see today. Stop by the town's oldest church, St. Peter Lutheran Church, for a moment of quiet reflection on the dedicated builders who constructed it in 1847. Originally founded by German immigrants, Schaumburg still beckons newcomers with open arms. The communal feel is infectious, and you're sure to fall in love with this suburb of Chicago in no time.

Chicago is more than Navy Pier or the Magnificent Mile. The history and charming culture of its surrounding suburbs draw you in just as much as any downtown site. There's so much to enjoy. Get out there and experience these residential neighborhood adventures for yourself! Winter, spring, summer or fall, Chicago has everything to offer. Pull your snowmobile out of storage and hit the trails in Orland Park and other outdoor spaces. You'll never run out of things to do in these suburbs.

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