Photo by Mary Ann Grumman

About Evanston

Evanston: The Crown Jewel of Chicago’s North Shore

The largest of Chicago’s north shore suburbs, with a population of about 75,000, Evanston is situated along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Its history began with the founding of Northwestern University in 1851 by a group of Methodist preachers. One of its founders, John Evans, gave his name to the city, which was founded in 1854 and renamed Evanston in 1857.

Today, Evanston is home to not only Northwestern University, but also to Garrett Theological Seminary and Seabury Western Theological Seminary (Episcopal). Evanston’s public schools enjoy a superb reputation nationwide, as do its many private elementary and high schools. There are more than 80 parks and playgrounds, several shopping areas and a plethora of restaurants featuring cuisines from countries including Ireland, Nepal, Brazil, Viet Nam, Mexico, China, Italy, to name just a few. Evanston boasts excellent public transportation services, as both the Metra (the “el”) and the Union Pacific trains serve the city.

The city’s beauty has been featured in film in movies including “Home Alone,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Dennis the Menace” and “The Road to Perdition.”

Rotary International is headquartered here, and hosts scores of visiting members from around the world every year. Among the cultural gems in Evanston are:

- The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, founded in 1977 and home to more than 9000 artifacts from a diverse group of native peoples. The Mitchell urges all visitors to “Discover, Experience and Connect!”

- The Charles Gates Dawes House, built in 1984 and now home to The Evanston History Center. A National Historic Landmark, it was home to Charles Gates Dawes, 30th Vice President of the United States, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925.

- The Grosse Pointe Lighthouse, also a National Historic Landmark, is only one of seven lighthouses so designated in the country. Built in 1873 to mark the Great Lakes’ shipping entrance to Chicago, it stands on a promontory (Grosse Pointe) first charted by noted French explorers Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette.

- The Evanston Art Center, founded in 1929, is housed in the historic Harley Clarke mansion, adjacent to the Grosse Pointe Lighthouse. One of Illinois’ oldest and largest community visual art centers, it annually hosts more than 3000 art students of all ages, and a great variety of free community “artreach” projects. Its wonderful “Sculpture on the Grounds” exhibits on its spacious front lawn are a favorite destination for visitors to Evanston.

- The Frances Willard House, another of Evanston’s National Historic Landmarks, is now home to the Frances Willard Historical Association, the Frances Willard Museum and Memorial Library and its adjacent Victorian Gardens. Frances Willard is perhaps best known as President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union from 1879 until 1898. She also was an early supporter of not only temperance but also of women’s right to vote, women’s economic and religious rights, prison, labor and education reforms.

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