Tinley Park is WGN Radio’s next Your Hometown feature on Thursday, March 30.
With a foothold in both Cook and Will counties, Tinley Park is about 25 miles southwest of the Loop.
Original inhabitants were primarily of the Potawatomi tribe. Land lured early settlers, who arrived as early as the 1830s from the eastern United States and were primarily German. They called their village, established in 1853, Bremen (sometimes seen as New Bremen), named after the German port of the same name where many departed from. It was mostly an agrarian community.
The railroad played a profound role in Tinley Park’s history, located on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad line. In 1890, Bremen changed its name to Tinley Park to honor its first railroad station agent, Samuel Tinley, Sr. The official village incorporation on June 27, 1892, took place at the train depot.
Today, Tinley Park has two train stations, one downtown on Oak Park Avenue and the second on 80th Avenue. Both serve as commuter stops along Metra’s Rock Island District Line. Engine 1892, a centennial monument, is a restored steam engine located at Tinley Park’s first train station on Oak Park Avenue (1892 South Street).
The area within the 1892 original village boundary is designated as a historic district. This includes the Rauhoff House (7112 173rd Place), built by prolific inventor John Rauhoff using Ironite, a waterproof additive for cement he invented that was later used in the construction of the Hoover Dam. The prairie-Gothic style Old Zion Landmark (6727 174th Street), built in 1884 for the Zion Lutheran congregation, is home to the Tinley Park Historical Society and offers a museum of historical artifacts.
Growth was slow until after World War II when affordable housing enticed new residents, doubling the population every decade from 1950 until 1980. In 2009, it was named the best place in the country to raise a family.
Music fans flock to Tinley Park for its outdoor music venue currently named Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, located just off I-180 at 19100 Ridgeland Avenue. Opened in 1990 with a capacity for 28,000 spectators, Cher was the first artist to perform on June 2 during her Heart of Stone tour. A variety of public and private events are held at the 120,000-square foot Tinley Park Convention Center, which opened in 2000 (18451 Convention Center Drive).
Popular community events in Tinley Park include Brew & Vine, Benches on the Avenue, Oktoberfest, Parade of Lights and Trim-A-Tree.