History of Broadview

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Then and Now

Village of Broadview

(Broadview Golden Jubilee — 1914 to 1964, Articles by Val Koch, published by the Village of Broadview)

“Bustling Broadview was once site of Native American hunting grounds”

In the early history of Cook County, Illinois, there rested in the tableland of the Des Plaines River, a reservation known as Proviso Township, bounded on north by Leyden, east by Cicero and Riverdale, south by Riverside and Lyons, and on the west by DuPage County. Up to the year 1870 this particular territory contained 36 sections, of which Broadview eventually became known as sections 15, 21, and 22.

The Des Plaines River flowed through the center of the east third of Proviso Township. The entire area consisted chiefly of majestic elm trees, many of which were five feet in diameter, surrounding a small lake which offered a haven for ducks and other migratory birds.

Broadview lay near the edge of this lake, which teamed with fish. Through the center of Proviso Township, winding toward Lemont, Illinois, was a strip of forest land, which provided hunting grounds for Native Americans of the Pottowatomie, Chippewa and Ottawa tribes; and skirmishes were reported between the Native Americans and earliest settlers in this area.

As late as 1900, a small settlement of Pottowatomies lived at 17th Avenue and the Illinois Central tracks. Many Native American arrowheads and other relics were found along the banks of Salt Creek.

Near the area of 17th Avenue and Roosevelt Road, rose a hill, aptly named Wolf Hill, because of several wolf lairs in and around it. Later this hill was leveled for road construction.

This section of land, then, which was partly swamp, was destined to become the Village of Broadview.  Eventually, the lake and muddy areas were partially drained by means of surface drainage in the Des Plaines River, and crops were then raised on this land. Potatoes and corn were the first crops, as well as oats, wheat, and timothy.  Later, the land was cultivated as truck gardens for various markets in the immediate area.  As time went on, a more modern drainage system, tile, was installed, which eventually completely drained the entire reservation.

The first white settler in Proviso Township was Aaron Parsell, who resided on Section 29 in the year, 1832.  Today, this section is known as Westchester.  For the purpose of title and geographical identification, Broadview is located on a tract of land known as Sections 15, 21, and 22, township 39 north range 12, east of the third principal meridian.

Historical records show a sale of land consisting of 80 acres in the Broadview area, was purchased from the United States government for $120.00.  This was on June 25, 1835, and the purchaser was one, Frederick Bronson. On August 8, 1835, he purchased 160 acres of land at public sale for $200.00.  By 1870 all the land of the future Broadview was owned by more than 35 different people.  See the map of Broadview Landowners as they were in 1870.

“In 1843 township 39, range 12 was officially surveyed.  This is Proviso Township and was the last township surveyed in Cook County.  The first U. S. government survey in Cook County area was made in 1821.”1 

“This area was organized into a town under the name of Taylor Township, but later in the month of April 1850 the name of Proviso was substituted for Taylor.  Proviso was suggested by the prominence still maintained in the minds of the people by the Wilmot Proviso.”2

1A. T. Andreas, History of Cook Country Illinois, Chicago, 1884, page 360
2 Ibid, page 800

In the 1880s the railroad came through the area and the first subdivision was platted.  Eighty acres of northeast Broadview was named the Western Addition, presumably of Maywood, in 1883.  In the same year, the Chicago, Madison and Northern Railroad Company (which became the Illinois Central Railroad) bought a right of way from farmers a half a mile south of this subdivision.  In 1890, the Union Land Association was formed by 35 investors and $100,000 in capital.  The following year they subdivided a portion south of 12th Street and drew in street numbers from Ninth Avenue to 21st Avenue.  They named their map Broad View (two words).  On an 1899 Rand McNally map of Chicago, the railroad station at 17th Avenue and the railroad right of way was shown as Broadview (one word). 

In 1893, the year of the Colombian Exposition, a real estate firm by the name of Foreman and Cummins began to clear the land and to subdivide it. Each lot was to have a frontage of 300 feet, and there were to be four lots to one block. Foreman and Cummins pitched a large tent near 11th and Roosevelt Road, advertised “Free Refreshments” on a sign on top of the tent, and went into the business of selling lots.  Very little resulted from the subdivision, however, and except for a few scattered houses, most of the area remained farmland. Almost all of the early settlers in Broadview were of German origin.

At the turn of the century, a farmer named Muir built his farmhouse on Ninth Avenue and 14th Street. His farm later burned to the ground. In 1870 Ernest Hoermann had built his farmhouse on the southwest corner of 17th Avenue and 14th Street. Seventeenth Street was named after him in those days, and his house still stands today. This, then was Broadview at the turn of the century; a few scattered farmhouses and a small settlement of homes, about twenty in all, in “80 Acres”. “80 Acres”, or Oklahoma, as it was commonly called, was that territory lying between what is now Eisenhower Expressway and Roosevelt Road, and extending from 13th Avenue west to 17th Avenue. 

The territory was unincorporated, and there were no building restrictions; in fact, there weren’t many building restrictions anywhere. “80 Acres” endured and thrived for a number of years. It contained a one-room school house, located in almost the identical spot where Roosevelt School now stands.

Meetings were held in this schoolhouse before a village hall was built, and many good times were held in it, too. It was regrettable, that owing to the difficulty in getting teachers to come out to “80 Acres”, the schoolhouse was closed down, and the students transferred to the No. 5 School, now known as Garfield School, at Ninth Avenue and Van Buren Street in Maywood. The children who lived south of Roosevelt Road trudged to school at Cermak Road and 25th Avenue.

Two gentlemen from Maywood then opened a Sunday School in the old schoolhouse. Mr. B. B. Coons and Mr. Davis spearheaded the opening of the Sunday School.

A bunch of classmates meet at the Hoermann farmhouse each morning and walked to Cermak Road down 17th Avenue, and then right to 25th Avenue.  In bad weather, there was mud,’ rain pools, slush, and snow. In extremely had weather, the school closed down.

There were no age requirements when a child started first grade in those days. If a youngster was under five and wanted to start school, and his/parents consented, he was right there with the rest of them. Aside from a schoolhouse and a saloon in “80 Acres”, there wasn’t much of anything else in the way of stores. The residents and farmers hitched up their horses and buggies and went to Forest Park, or to Maywood, to do their shopping.  This always turned out to be a half day event, where one met old friends and chatted over buggy wheels.

“80 Acres” boasted modern sidewalks, which were planks laid out on two by fours, and wide enough for two people to use. They didn’t last too long, however. The weather rotted the lumber.  Those walks which didn’t fall apart, were eventually torn up.

There were no street lamps installed in Broadview. Roosevelt Road was a single lane graveled roadway, and veering north from it, was a single lane dirt road. The graveled road was used for funerals on their way to Oak Ridge, or Mount Carmel, which were the only cemeteries west of Broadview at that time.

The dirt road was popular with teamsters hauling crushed stone from the Hillside quarry, and by farmers. Traffic was light compared with today, and there were none of the problems as we know them now.

In the summertime, Sunday afternoons were very popular, due to “80 Acres” fine baseball team, which was organized in 1912.  The song on everybody’s tongue at that time was “Harrigan, That’s Me”, and so the “80 Acres” team was called the “Harrigan Colts”, and a fine looking body of young men they were, all decked out in their green and white uniforms.  And could they play ball? Hardly ever did a team come out that could beat them, and the best sandlot teams that Chicago had to offer were taken on. The star pitcher was George Cote, who was Broadview’s first treasurer.

In 1914, there was talk of incorporating the territory of Broadview. Maywood offered to enfold Broadview into her boundaries, but many people were against such a move.

http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/Histories/Broadview/Broadview_JacobMueller_small.jpgAn election was held under the guidance of Jacob Mueller, who became Broadview’s first president, John Reindecker, and J. Radtke, to see what the people would choose. They voted for incorporation, and it was on January 22, 1914, under the laws of the state of Illinois, that Broadview became a village.  Some of the village incorporation papers can be viewed at Broadview Incorporation Papers.

Photo from Broadview Golden Jubilee — 1914 to 1964

At this time, the boundaries were pretty much the same as they are today, with one important exception. The boundary on the east extended to 800 feet past First Avenue, bounded on the north by Roosevelt Road and on the south by Cermak Road.  (See the maps at Broadview Boundaries).

One always knew who won an election, in those days, without help of radio or television. You glanced over toward village hall on election day. The campaigners whose horses were tied up to the hitching post towards evening were the winners. Those whose horses and buggies left early in the afternoon, were the losers.

While talk was going on in Broadview regarding incorporation, there was talk of similar nature going on in a suite of rooms located in the Marquette Building in Chicago. A group of men were interested in organizing a racetrack in the Chicagoland area, and after scouting about for a suitable location, they decided on a piece of land that was within the boundaries of Broadview.

How Did Broadview Get It’s Name

At the time the Village of Broadview was to be incorporated, my grandfather, Jacob Mueller … asked his family to choose a name for the village.

My mother, Elizabeth (Mueller) Coté suggested they adapt the name of BROADVIEW after the name of the Illinois Central Railroad depot, because in those days maps carried the names of only large cities and all railroad depots.  Therefore, it would put ‘BROADVIEW’ on the map.”

- James G. Coté Sr. (from Broadview’s Golden Jubilee book)

The site they chose consisted of 320 acres of level land, bounded on the north by Roosevelt Road, on the south by Cermak Road, and the east and west boundaries were First Avenue to Ninth Avenue. On May 27, 1914, the Speedway Park Association was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois.

During the life of this association, it was involved in several minor law suits, covering mechanics, liens, etc., but the project was eventually cleared.

Back on February 12, 1914, the Speedway Park Association announced that they had placed a contract for the construction of a two mile board track, to be completed by June 1, 1915, under terms of the agreement. This created jobs for everyone wishing to work, and so the new village of Broadview started off with a very prosperous beginning.

It has been estimated that the construction requirements employed 500 men.  Actual construction work started on April 19, 1915. The land was vacant, so there was no time lost in wrecking. The track surface was constructed with two by fours laid edgewise, spaced with a quarter inch gap between them, and running in the direction of planned traffic flow.

This picture of the Village Hall was one of the first taken after the hall was built.  On the steps are Village Marshall H. Radtke and Village Trustee Fred Schultz.  The third man was a neighbor from Maywood.

Photo from Broadview Golden Jubilee — 1914 to 1964

 

http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/Histories/Broadview/Broadview_VillageHall_small.jpg

It has been estimated that the construction requirements employed 500 men.  Actual construction work started on April 19, 1915. The land was vacant, so there was no time lost in wrecking. The track surface was constructed with two by fours laid edgewise, spaced with a quarter inch gap between them, and running in the direction of planned traffic flow.

 

 

The supports were made of wood set in proper intervals, upon concrete foundations or piers. The track was 60 feet wide on the homestretch, and 70 feet wide on the turns, and the back stretch was 50 feet wide. It was also planned to have a golf course, polo field, and an aviation field. All plans were located in the original contract.

The financing was secured by means of a membership proposition. The full allotment of 1,000 members at $250 a member was secured, which placed $250,000 into the initial treasury. In addition to this, the directors pledged $500,000 for which they would take stock, if necessary. It was further contemplated on selling another 10,000 memberships at $50 a year, which would not carry any stock.

The contract for the track called for a minimum expenditure of $500,000 and the maximum of $1,000,000. The contractor gave a bond of $200,000 to complete all of the original plans by June 1, 1915.

The first derby on the speedway racetrack was on June 26, 1915. Twenty one cars began the race at 10:30. Exactly five hours, seven minutes, and 26 seconds later, Doric Resta, driving a French Peugeot, flashed across the finish line, a winner and holder of a new world record.

Resta had averaged 97.58 miles per hour, for a total of 500 miles. He beat by more than 50 per cent, the fastest time ever made by a railroad train. On August 7, 1915, a match race between four of the best drivers in the world was run. Dorio Resta, winner of the derby, romped home a victor over Earl Cooper, Barney Oldfield, and Bat Bunnan, the American favorites.

It is worthy to note that America’s first auto race was won in a field of ten in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, 1895, at a speed of less than ten miles per hour.

On July 28, 1918, Ralph DePalma won the International sweepstakes at Speedway.

The crowd was estimated at 15,000 in the grandstands, bleachers and paddock.  DePalma was awarded $17,000 for first place, and the second place winner was a Frenchman by the name of Louis Chevrolet.

The Park grandstand and open field scats suitable for aviation meets, had a capacity of 200,000. The racetrack, apparently, was not a financial success.

When a committee from the Surgeon General’s office of the Army was ordered to Chicago for the purpose of making a preliminary survey and to recommend a site for hospital use, they considered two locations:

  • the Field Museum area
  • the Speedway Racetrack.

The final decision went to Speedway and actual hospital construction began in 1918.

At that time, the Public Health Service was responsible for hospitalizing wounded and disabled troops during World War I.  Accordingly, a contract to purchase the site for the hospital records was entered into between Edward Hines Sr. and the Public Health Service.

The hospital was dedicated by Marshal Foch of France, on November 6, 1921, and on August 8, 1921, the first patients were admitted. It’s first, official name was the United States Public Health Service Hospital.

In the beginning, people kept referring to it as the Speedway Hospital.  Even after an executive order on October 24, 1921, by the president of the United States, designating the hospital as the Edward Hines Jr. Hospital, the newspapers and the public in general continued to refer to the Speedway Hospital for many years, until eventually the incorrect name was lost to time.

It is interesting to note that in 1928, Colonel Scott, hospital manager, contracted for erection of the metal fence around the entire reservation. This fence still stands today.

Legend has it that the fence was erected to accomplish a two-fold purpose; namely to keep the fowl hunters from Broadview and other towns off the hospital grounds and also to keep patients on the grounds.  It seems there was a tendency on the part of some of the patients to walk over into Broadview to frequent a saloon that was located on 9th Avenue, just south of the main hospital building.

Although Hines Hospital was no longer within Broadview limits in 1920, here is a sideline of events at that time which may be of interest. In 1920, after remaining in Grant Park, Chicago, for two years, the airmail terminal of the post office department was moved to Checkerboard Field at the south edge of Maywood.

The reason for this move was because of the increased congested conditions at the lake front in Chicago. David D. Behncke and Bert R. J. Russell had opened this field in 1919, and used it as a shipping center.

In 1923, Behncke sold the field to Wilfred Alonzo Yackey, a former military and airmail pilot.  From 1923 until Yackey’s death in an airplane crash, the Yackey Aircraft Company and Checkerboard Field were the center of aircraft manufacturing activities in the Chicago area.

During the early 20′s Checkerboard Field was moved across First Avenue to the grounds of Edward Hines Jr. Memorial Hospital, where it remained until the post office turned over transcontinental routes to private contractors in 1927.

In those days, no night flying was allowed, until in 1924, when night flying was adopted. No one worked on Sunday, the one day that planes were grounded.

On April 15, 1926, a slender Kelly Field graduate who worked his way up to a captain in the Army Air Corps Reserve, made the first airmail flight from Chicago (the Government air field on the hospital grounds) to St. Louis. The plane used for this inaugural mail run was a DeHaviland. The pilot was Captain Charles A. Lindberg.

The urge to expand, to build, to improve, struck Broadview in the roaring Twenties as elsewhere, and a great program of street paving, water and sewer installations, sidewalks and street lights, was put into effect.

In 1927 the LaGrange Citizen wrote about Broadview’s commitment to growth in several articles, one of which can be read at http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/images/news-paper-small.jpgBroadview Begins 500000 Dollar Program_LaGrange Citizen_Apr 7 1927.

Some construction of houses was actually started, and along 18th Avenue and 19th Avenue north of Roosevelt, a number of fine homes were built, giving the name of “Gold Coast” to this section.  Major improvements were planned for Roosevelt, expanding it to forty feet in wide.  See http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/images/news-paper-small.jpgMarch 1928–Improvements to Roosevelt Road

It was on May 29, 1917 that the Chicago Tribune ran a story about corruption — and Broadview was picked as the example in its story — http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/images/news-paper-small.jpgChicago Tribune  May 29 1917_BROADVIEW COPS AND JUDGES WAX FAT ON AUTOISTS.  It was a sign of the times and a situation which was repeated in similar ways across the country…as well as a few years later by another Broadview Police Chief, Marshall Huszar.  See article http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/images/news-paper-small.jpgTerm For Huszar Cheers Motor Club_LaGrange Citizen_April 21 1927 and Early Residents and Settlers.

Broadview’s business district is remembered in a June 1979 interview of Victor Gaddis in Broadview Business District 1920s.

In 1930, the Depression hit Broadview and things slipped to a standstill again. For example, an enterprising real estate office brought ‘prospective customers’ out to Broadview on the Illinois Central train, wined and dined them, and then offered to give each client a free lot with the purchase of one lot.

Early in 1930 a section of Broadview was “disconnected” from the Village and made part of the Cook Country Forest Preserve District.  This area was a strip of land between Roosevelt and Cermak (22nd Street) Roads to the east of First Avenue to a distance of  1320 feet.  The Hines Hospital/Vaughn Central Hospital complex was also removed from the Village of Broadview making its east boundary Ninth Avenue.

During May of 1930, in the aftermath of village elections there was some excitement when Marshall Andrew Borg and others assaulted one of the new (but not yet sworn in) village officials.  Read about these event from the pages of Chicago newspapers.  See http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/images/news-paper-small.jpgMay 1930–Exciting Times.  Graft and corruption was an evil sign of the times and Broadview did not escape its influence.  The county treasurer, responsible for collecting and passing on some of the taxes to Broadview, was accused (and later indicted) for skimming off monies.  See http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/images/news-paper-small.jpgJan 1933–More Exciting Times.  Also in February of 1930 James Grant, village clerk of Broadview died in a fire.  (See http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/images/news-paper-small.jpgConcede Broadview Clerk Fire Victim, LaGrange Citizen, Feb 27 1930.)

Perhaps the most significant long-term event of 1937 was the election of Merritt Braga to his first term as village president; a position from which he would lead Broadview through many challenges.  He grew to become the “dean of mayors”, serving for 42 continuous year until his death in 1980.  (Read newspaper stories about Merritt Braga.)

Things remained pretty much this way until 1940 and 1941 before the second World War started. With the defense boom Broadview again came to life.

Many tax delinquent lots were cleared of indebtedness, and home building was once more under way. The first building took place in that section east of 17th Avenue and south of Roosevelt Road, which became known as the “Hollywood Section”.

The west portion of the Cold Coast also came in for some intensive construction, so by the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the population had increased considerably.

A few stores began to locate here, to service the ever expanding population.

About 1942, there was considerable activity in the section west of 17th Avenue and south of Roosevelt Road, and this became known as the “Garden Section”. “80 Acres” also came in for some face lifting, and a number of very attractive homes were built in that section.

In 1942, a zoning ordinance for the entire village was adopted, and since that time, all building has been done to conform to the ordinance, as well as the ordinance regulating the types of buildings that can be erected.

There have been a number of changes in the zoning ordinance, hut these were made only after a full hearing by the zoning board of appeals and the enactment of a new ordinance by the village board.

In 1940, a park district was formed, encompassing the entire area of Broadview. The members of the Park Board have done wonders with playgrounds for the youngsters, and recreational activities for all ages.

In the same year, a business district along Harrison Street was abolished, and the stores moved to other locations (some on Roosevelt Road) when the Congress superhighway (now Eisenhower Expressway) came along. An ornamental street lighting system was installed through the business section along Roosevelt Road.

The new village hall was formally opened to the public on March 18, 1954. It had been built over and around the first wooden village hall, which had been erected in 1915. At the time of the dedication in 1954, Merritt Braga was president of Broadview, as he has been since 1937.

The completion of the Congress Expressway (now the Eisenhower) in the mid-1950s had a significant impact, eliminating some homes and street while increasing other development in the village.  The business district on Roosevelt Road began to flourish.  What had been a few little shops became a shopping district comprised of supermarkets, gas stations, butchers, show stores, pharmacies, a dairy store, restaurants and a greenhouse.  The change made life in Broadview more convenient.

As of 1964, Broadview had grown into a community of about 3,000 families, 141 commercial units consisting of various shops, supermarkets, etc., and about 80 industrial plants.

In 1967 the fire department moved into its new firehouse facility on 25th Avenue and 14th Street.

On September 22, 1991, the newly constructed Municipal and Police Department building at 2350 South 25th Avenue was dedicated.  It replaced the building on Roosevelt Road and 16th Avenue

 

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