Evanston is the next “Your Hometown” location. Tune-in on Thursday, September 30 to hear more about the places and people that make Evanston unique.
Twelve miles north of downtown is Evanston, a place where “Chicago and the North Shore meet.” Settled by the Potawatomi until the 1830s, Evanston was incorporated in 1863. One of the first streetcar suburbs, Evanston’s accessibility to Chicago by rail helped propel its growth. Evanston is served by several Metra stations and the CTA Purple Line.
Evanston is home to Northwestern University and is named after one of the school’s founders, John Evans. It is also the corporate headquarters for Rotary International and was the birthplace of the popular child’s toy, Tinkertoys. The Chicago Fire of 1871 prompted wealthier residents to build homes in Evanston and there are several historic districts within the city limits.
Lakefront beaches, a vibrant art scene and nine unique business districts with specialty shops and restaurants are amenities for residents and visitors alike. Evanston has also been popular for Hollywood. Dozens of movies have filmed there, including Uncle Buck, Sixteen Candles, Dennis the Menace and Rookie of the Year.
Interesting facts about Evanston:
- The roots of the ice cream sundae might be traced back to Evanston. In 1890, Evanston was among the first to pass a “Sunday law” that banned the sale of ice cream sodas. Instead, only ice cream with the syrup of choice was served. That dish was called the “sundae”.
- It is likely that the purple of CTA’s Purple Line is taken from Northwestern’s school colors.
- Deep Methodist roots meant that Evanston was a dry community from 1858 until 1972. Frances Willard, an Evanston resident and a founding member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), lobbied for prohibition both in Evanston and the country. The WCTU has been headquartered in Evanston since 1900, and was based inside Willard’s home. Today, both a distillery and a brewery in Evanston evoke the town’s history with liquor: FEW Spirits (named for Frances Elizabeth Willard) and Temperance Beer Co.
- In March 2021, Evanston became the first city in the U.S. to pay reparations to African American residents, or their descendants, who were victims of unfair housing practices.
- Many famous names and faces across all disciplines have ties to Evanston. Among them include the actors Bill Murray, John Cusack, Joan Cusack, David Schwimmer, Seth Meyers, Jeremy Piven, Alicia Goranson, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth McGovern, comedian Ruby Wax, and musicians Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon.
Have your say in our “Your Hometown” series! Submit your suggestions on which town you think we should feature here. Hear a different “Your Hometown” featured every month.
“Your Hometown” featuring Evanston is sponsored by Downtown Evanston, @properties, McDonald’s, and Grain Berry.