Main Births etc
Evanston, Illinois
—  City  —
Fountain Square
Nickname(s): E-Town

Evanston, Illinois is located in Illinois
Location of Evanston in Illinois
Coordinates: 42°02′47″N 87°41′41″W / 42.04639, -87.69472Coordinates: 42°02′47″N 87°41′41″W / 42.04639, -87.69472
Country United States
U.S. state Illinois
County Cook
Township Evanston
Incorporated 1872
 • Type Council-manager
 • Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl
 • Budget $250,096,993 (fiscal year: 2011–2012)
 • Total 7.80 sq mi (20.2 km2)
 • Land 7.78 sq mi (20.2 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.1 km2)  0.26%
Population (2012)
 • Total 75,430
  0.33% increase from 2000
Standard of living (2011)[1][2]
 • Per capita income $40,732
 • Median home value $340,700
Demographics (2010)[3]
 • White 65.6%
 • Black 18.1%
 • Asian 8.6%
 • Other 7.6%
 • Hispanic (any race) 9.0%
ZIP code(s) 60201, 60202, 60203, 60204, 60208, 60209
Area code(s) 847, 224
Geocode 17-24582
GNIS ID 2394709

Evanston is a suburban city in Cook County, Illinois, United States, 12 miles (19 km) north of downtown Chicago, bordered by Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with a population of 74,486 as of 2010.[3] It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan. The boundaries of the city of Evanston are coterminous with those of Evanston Township – although school districts 65 and 202 take in a small portion of eastern Skokie. Evanston is the home of Northwestern University.


Prior to the 1830s, the area now occupied by Evanston was mainly uninhabited, consisting largely of wetlands and swampy forest. However, Potawatomi Indians used trails along higher lying ridges that ran in a general north-south direction through the area, and had at least some semi-permanent settlements along the trails.

A part of downtown Evanston, as seen in October 2005

French explorers referred to the general area as "Grosse Pointe" after a point of land jutting into Lake Michigan about 13 miles (21 km) north of the mouth of the Chicago River. After the first non-native Americans settled in the area in 1836, the names "Grosse Point Territory" and "Gross Point voting district" were used through the 1830s and 1840s, although the territory had no defined boundaries.[4][5] The area remained only sparsely settled, supporting some farming and lumber activity on some of the higher ground, as well as a number of taverns or "hotels" along the ridge roads.

In 1850, a township called Ridgeville was organized, extending from Graceland Cemetery in Chicago to the southern edge of the Ouilmette Reservation, along what is now Central Street, and from Lake Michigan to Western Avenue in Chicago. The 1850 census shows a few hundred settlers in this township,[5] and a post office with the name of Ridgeville was established at one of the taverns. However, no municipality yet existed.

In 1851, a group of Methodist business leaders founded Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute. They chose a bluffed and wooded site along the lake as Northwestern's home, purchasing several hundred acres of land from Dr. John Foster, a Chicago farm owner. In 1854, the founders of Northwestern submitted to the county judge their plans for a city to be named Evanston after John Evans,[6] one of their leaders. In 1857, the request was granted.[7] The township of Evanston was split off from Ridgeville Township; at approximately the same time, that portion of Ridgeville south of Devon Avenue was organized as Lake View Township.[8] The nine founders, including John Evans, Orrington Lunt, and Andrew Brown, hoped their university would attain high standards of intellectual excellence. Today these hopes have been fulfilled, as Northwestern consistently ranks with the best of the nation's universities.

Evanston was formally incorporated as a town on December 29, 1863, but declined in 1869 to become a city despite the Illinois legislature passing a bill for that purpose. Evanston expanded after the Civil War with the annexation of the village of North Evanston. Finally, in early 1892, following the annexation of the village of South Evanston, voters elected to organize as a city.[9] The 1892 boundaries are largely those that exist today.

During the 1960s, Northwestern University changed the city's shoreline by adding a 74-acre (29.9 ha) lakefill.[10]

In 1939, Evanston hosted the first NCAA basketball championship final at Northwestern University's Patten Gymnasium.[11]

In August 1954, Evanston hosted the second assembly of the World Council of Churches, still the only WCC assembly to have been held in the United States. President Dwight Eisenhower welcomed the delegates, and Dag Hammarskjöld, secretary-general of the United Nations, delivered an important address entitled "An instrument of faith".[12]

Evanston first received power in April 1893. Many people lined the streets on Emerson St. where the first appearance of street lights were lined and turned on. Today, the city is home to Northwestern University and other educational institutions, as well as headquarters of Alpha Phi International women's fraternity, Rotary International, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the National Lekotek Center, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, the Sigma Chi Fraternity and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

Evanston is the birthplace of Tinkertoys, and Evanston, along with Ithaca, New York, Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and Plainfield, Illinois, also lays claim to having originated the ice cream sundae.[13] Evanston was the home of the Clayton Mark and Company, which for many years supplied the most jobs.[14]

Evanston was a dry community from 1858 until 1972, when the City Council voted to allow restaurants and hotels to serve liquor on their premises. In 1984, the Council voted to allow retail liquor outlets within the city limits.[15]


Evanston is located at 42°2′47″N 87°41′41″W / 42.04639, -87.69472 (42.046380, -87.694608)[16] and is at an elevation of 600 ft.

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 7.80 square miles (20.2 km2), of which 7.78 square miles (20.2 km2) (or 99.74%) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.052 km2) (or 0.26%) is water.[17]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 4,400
1890 9,000 104.5%
1900 19,259 114.0%
1910 24,978 29.7%
1920 37,234 49.1%
1930 63,338 70.1%
1940 65,389 3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 74,486 people (up from 74,239 at the 2000 census), 30,047 households, and 15,621 families residing in the city. The population density was 9,574.0 people per square mile (3,687.4/km²). There were 33,181 housing units at an average density of 4,264.9 per square mile (1,642.6/km²). The 2010 census showed that Evanston is ethnically mixed with the following breakdown in population: 65.6% white, 18.1% black or African American, 0.2% American Indian or Alaska Native, 8.6% Asian, 0.02% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 3.6% some other race, and 3.8% from two or more races. 9.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[3]

There were 30,047 households, out of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.8% were headed by married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.0% were non-families. 37.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.5% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25, and the average family size was 3.05.[3]

The median age was 34.3 years, with 19.3% under the age of 18, 16.8% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.[3]

As of 2011, the estimated median income for a household in the city was $60,033, and the median income for a family was $102,706. Male full-time workers had a median income of $66,106 versus $52,727 for females. The per capita income for the city was $40,732. About 6.4% of families and 12.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.1% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.[1]

Government and politics[]

Evanston has a council-manager system of government and is divided into nine wards, each of which is represented by an Alderman, or member of the Evanston City Council. As of 2013, the mayor is Elizabeth Tisdahl, replacing longtime mayor Lorraine H. Morton.

In the April 2009, municipal elections, Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl won a landslide victory in the race for mayor over three opponents in a low-turnout election.[19]

Evanston was heavily Republican in voter identification from the time of the Civil War up to the 1960s. Nixon carried Evanston in the 1968 presidential election.[20] Then it began trending Democratic and now almost exclusively identifies with candidates affiliated with the Democratic Party in elections on all levels of government.

In the 2004 presidential election, Democratic candidate John Kerry won 82% of Evanston's vote. His Republican opponent and the nationwide winner, President George W. Bush, only won 17% of the vote in Evanston. In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama won approximately 87% of the vote in Evanston over Republican Senator John McCain.


  • Early after its founding, because of its strong Methodist influence, and its attempt to impose moral rigor, Evanston was called "Heavenston".[21]
  • In the early 20th century Evanston was called "The City of Churches".[22]
  • The varied works of numerous prominent architects, and many prominent mansions, especially near the lakefront, gave the town by the 1920s the sobriquet "The City of Homes",[21][23] a fact often touted by local real estate agents.[24] Use of the phrase has been attributed to a 1924 speech at the local Kiwanis club.[25]
  • Since the late 20th century, because of Evanston's activism and often left-of-center politics, it is sometimes humorously (or sarcastically) referred to as "The People's Republic of Evanston".[26][27][28]
  • "E-Town" is a nickname used often by Evanston's youth populace, and is especially common among students and even faculty at Evanston Township High School. Northwestern University students call the town "Heavanston."[29][30]
  • Sometimes the adjacent towns, Skokie and Evanston are combined to form the portmanteau: "Skevanston."
  • "Da Town" is the newest most profound nickname given to Evanston by the 90's baby generation.


Public schools[]

High school[]

Most of Evanston (and a small part of the village of Skokie) is within the boundaries of Evanston Township High School District 202. The district has a single high school, Evanston Township High School (ETHS), with an enrollment of just over 3,500, covering grades 9 through 12. The school's mascot is Willie the Wildkit (a diminutive of Northwestern's Wildcats), and the school's colors are orange and blue. Its biggest rival is New Trier High School in Winnetka. Its superintendent is Dr. Eric Witherspoon.

Primary schools[]

Evanston-Skokie Community Consolidated School District 65, covering all of Evanston and a small part of Skokie, provides primary education from pre-kindergarten through grade 8. The district has ten elementary schools (kindergarten through fifth grade), three middle schools (grades 6 through 8), two magnet schools (K through 8), two special schools or centers, and an early childhood school. Dr. Hardy Murphy is the Superintendent of Schools. A complete listing of the schools is available on the school district website.[31]

Private schools[]

Several schools exist in city limits apart from the public school districts.

Baker Demonstration School[]

Chiaravalle Montessori School[]

Chiaravalle is a non-denominational, Montessori, independent, co-educational school for children ages 2–14. The school is primarily housed in an architecturally significant Daniel Burnham brick schoolhouse blocks west of Lake Michigan in the Lakeshore Historic District of Evanston. Additional space is rented from the First Congregational Church of Evanston for the Middle School, grades 7-8.

Midwest Montessori School[]

Midwest Montessori School, in addition to serving as a half- or full-day school for 3 to 6 year-olds, is the Demonstration School for the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center. Each classroom is designed to be a model for the Montessori prepared environment, with a full complement of Montessori materials. Each class is directed by a Master Montessori Teacher, who is assisted by Montessori interns. The classrooms are observed regularly by teachers, students and interns from all over the Chicago area and the Midwest.

Pope John XXIII School[]

Roycemore School[]

Saint Athanasius School[]

St. Athanasius School is a Catholic school for children kindergarten through eighth grade, and a ministry of St. Athanasius Parish.


Evanston Public Library - main branch

The Evanston Public Library was established in 1873,[32] and has three branches as of 2013.[33]


Shops along Davis Street, looking west, August 2006. The Davis Street Metra stop is visible in the lower half of the photograph.

Evanston's growth occurred largely because of its accessibility from Chicago by rail. The Northwestern founders did not finalize their commitment to siting the university there until they were assured the Chicago & Milwaukee Railway line would run there. C&M trains began stopping in Evanston in 1855.[34] Evanston later experienced rapid growth as one of the first streetcar suburbs. The North Shore Line which gave the area its nickname started at Church Street in Evanston and continued up to Waukegan.

Transit continues to make Evanston attractive today. The CTA's Purple Line, part of the Chicago 'L' system, runs through Evanston. From its terminal at Howard in Chicago, the line heads north to the South Boulevard, Main, Dempster, Davis, Foster, Noyes, and Central stations, before terminating at Linden station in Wilmette. Metra's Union Pacific/North Line also serves Evanston, with stations at Main Street, Davis Street and Central Street, the first two being adjacent to Purple Line stations. The CTA's Yellow Line also runs through the city, though it only stops at Howard.

Evanston is served by six CTA bus routes as well as four Pace bus routes.

Active modes of transportation include miles of sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

The largest automobile routes from Chicago to Evanston include Lake Shore Drive, the Edens Expressway (I-94), and McCormick Boulevard, although the first two of those do not extend to Evanston itself and require driving through Rogers Park (via Sheridan Road or Ridge Avenue) and Skokie, respectively. The principal routes from the north are the Edens, Green Bay Road, and Sheridan Road.


Top employers[]

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[35] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Northwestern University 5,325
2 NorthShore University HealthSystem 3,780
3 Saint Francis Hospital 1,649
4 City of Evanston 1,000
5 Evanston-Skokie Community Consolidated School District 65 700
6 Evanston Township High School District 202 566
7 Presbyterian Homes 533
8 Rotary International 460
9 Jewel/Osco 455
10 C.E. Niehoff & Co. 450

Commercial districts[]

Once the home of one of the first Marshall Field's[36][37] and Sears stores in suburbia, Evanston remains an important shopping destination for the north suburbs and North Side of Chicago, with numerous commercial centers throughout the city. The principal ones are as follows:

  • Downtown - centered around the Davis Street Metra and "L" stops,[38] Evanston's downtown adjoins Northwestern University. There are over 300 businesses,[39] several highrise office and residential buildings, three traditional low-rise shopping areas, an 18-screen movie theatre, and over 85 restaurants.
  • Central Street - actually several shopping districts linked along the northernmost of the city's principal east-west arteries,[40][41] with the most active clustered around the Central Street Metra station and characterized by specialty shops and restaurants[42] in a walkable environment with an eclectic, vintage "small-town feel"[43] strongly protected by the community.[44]
  • Dempster Street - just off the Dempster "L" stop; over 60 shops,[45] many of them small and hip, including Bagel Art, the vegetarian Blind Faith Cafe, The Mexican Shop, 2nd Hand Tunes, lollie (children's boutique), FolkWorks Gallery, Union Pizzeria and SPACE, a music venue and recording studio.[46]
  • Main Street Station - approximately 3 blocks of mostly independent boutiques and restaurants[47] abutting both a CTA and Metra stop, in a gentrifying neighborhood. Since 1917,[48] the neighborhood has been home to the South Branch[49] of the Evanston Public Library. After the original branch closed in February 2011 due to budgetary concerns, the Chicago Ave./Main St. Branch was opened down the street in January 2013, replacing an interim volunteer library that had been operated in that location by the Evanston Public Library Friends.[50] The neighborhood is also home to the Evanston Arts Depot.[51]
  • Howard Street - many small shops line the city's border with Chicago; at the west end of the avenue, near the border with Skokie, Howard Center, a small thriving shopping mall, was built in the 1990s after some controversy.[52]
  • Chicago Avenue - not a separate shopping district per se, this extension of what is called Clark Street in Chicago runs parallel to the rail lines and is the principal north-south artery in Evanston from Howard Street north to its terminus at Northwestern University. Chicago Avenue connects the Main Street, Dempster Street, and Downtown shopping districts with a mix of small independent businesses and chains, including a busy cluster of supermarkets near its intersection with Dempster. Once home to a great number of auto dealerships, it has attracted numerous restaurants and a growing number of multi-unit residential structures.

Health care[]

Two hospitals are located within Evanston's city limits:

  • Evanston Hospital, part of NorthShore University HealthSystem
  • St. Francis Hospital, part of Resurrection Health Care

University-city relations[]

"The Arch", the main entrance to the Evanston campus of Northwestern University

A perennial debate in Evanston is the issue of Northwestern University's status as a tax-exempt institution. In the founding charter of Northwestern University, signed in 1851, the state granted the school an exemption from paying property taxes, and unlike other well-off private universities with statutory exemptions,[53] it provides its own police services, but not firefighter/paramedic services. It pays water, sewer, communications, real property transfer taxes, and building permit fees, but not property taxes. Northwestern does not make Payments in Lieu of Taxes for the real estate it removes from property tax rolls.

Northwestern's critics allege that it consumes far more from the city than it contributes. However, its backers, like former Evanston mayor and Northwestern alumna Lorraine H. Morton, contend that the benefits of having an elite research institution justify Northwestern's tax status.[54] These supporters highlight the fact that Northwestern University is the largest employer in Evanston,[55] and that its students and faculty constitute a large consumer base for Evanston businesses. This controversy was revived in 2003 when the university purchased an eight-story office building downtown, removing it from the tax rolls. An advisory referendum put on the April elections ballot, dubbed by supporters as a "Fair Share Initiative", received a majority, but was not passed into ordinance by the City Council.

In September 2009, Northwestern purchased a fire truck for the city of Evanston at a cost of $550,000. Northwestern President Morton Schapiro stated, "We are pleased to fund the purchase of this new fire engine, which was the top priority of the City in our discussions with how we might assist the City financially."[56]

Notable people[]

Local media[]

  • The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper at Northwestern University
  • The Evanston Review, subscription weekly newspaper, part of Pioneer Press
  • The Evanston Roundtable, free biweekly newspaper
  • The Evanston Sentinel, free weekly African-American newspaper
  • Evanston Now, an online newspaper and community website.

Use as film location[]

Evanston's variety of housing and commercial districts, combined with easy access to Chicago, make it a popular filming location. Evanston as of December 2008 is listed as a filming location for 65 different films, notably those of John Hughes.[57] Much of the 1984 film Sixteen Candles was filmed in and around Evanston,[58] as was Home Alone 3.[59] A number of scenes from the 1986 Garry Marshall film Nothing in Common were filmed on the Northwestern University campus and Evanston's lakeshore.[60] Although not filmed there, the 2004 film Mean Girls is set in the Evanston suburbs, and makes several references to the area. In the 2003 film Cheaper by the Dozen, the family moves to Evanston.[61] Additionally, the baseball movie Rookie of the Year, featuring Gary Busey and Thomas Ian Nicholas, was partially shot at Haven Middle School.[62]


Evanston has gained recognition and reputation for efforts related to sustainability, including those by government, citizens, and institutions.

Climate Action Plan[]

In October 2006, the city voted to sign the United States Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement,[63] and a number of citizen task forces convened to develop a plan to reduce the city's carbon footprint.[64] The Evanston Climate Action Plan ("ECAP"), accepted by the City Council in November 2008, suggested over 200 strategies to make Evanston more sustainable, principally by reducing carbon emissions associated with transportation, buildings, energy sources, waste, and food production.[65][66] In June 2011, the United States Conference of Mayors awarded Evanston first place in the small city category of the Mayors' Climate Protection Awards, based largely on the city's use of the ECAP, which the city asserts has reduced emissions by 24,000 metric tons per year.[67][68] On September 15, 2011, Wal-Mart presented Mayor Tisdahl with a $15,000 award in recognition of the honor, which the mayor donated to Citizens' Greener Evanston.

Other municipal efforts[]

An Evanston Strategic Plan passed on March 27, 2006, aspired to create the most livable city in America and to promote the highest quality of life for all residents.[69] One goal is to create and maintain functionally appropriate, sustainable, accessible high quality infrastructure and facilities. This includes continual development of an environmentally sensitive lakefront and implementation of a comprehensive long-range infrastructure plan. Another goal is to protect the city's natural resources and to build environment, not destroy it. The city also wants to improve its transportation resources to be more safe, integrated, accessible, responsive, and energy-efficient. Evanston has an environment board[70] and an office of sustainability.[71]

Offshore wind farm[]

The single largest carbon-reducing strategy identified in the ECAP, the development of an offshore wind farm in Lake Michigan,[72] gained widespread attention.[73] In April 2010, Evanston's City Council voted to authorize issuing a Request for Information (RFI) so that interested parties could provide information on developing a wind energy facility 4 miles (6 km) off the coast of Lake Michigan.[74] Following the receipt of responses, the Mayor appointed a committee to evaluate the information received. The committee's report was accepted in spring 2011, and the City Council voted to move forward with exploration of the concept. In the meantime, Evanston legislators introduced legislation, signed into law in summer 2011, creating a state offshore wind council to propose how to regulate possible development of such projects.

Citizen and institutional efforts[]

Northwestern University's Ford Engineering Design Center is a LEED Silver certified building,[75] and the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation has built a LEED Platinum certified synagogue.[76] Not-for-profit groups active on environmental issues include Citizens' Greener Evanston,[77] an outgrowth of the hundreds of citizens who participated in the creation of the Climate Action Plan, the Business Alliance for a Sustainable Evanston,[78] a coalition of local businesses committed to advancing environmental sustainability and economic progress in Evanston's commercial sector, The Talking Farm, an organization devoted to sustainable urban farming, and the Evanston Environmental Association, who organizes an annual "Green Living Festival" and other events.

Points of interest[]

  • Evanston History Center
  • Fountain Square Tower
  • Frances Willard House
  • Free School of Evanston
  • Grosse Point Lighthouse
  • Ladd Arboretum
  • Mount Trashmore
  • Northwestern University
  • Rotary International World head quarter

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Evanston, Illinois


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