Blue Island Illinois History
The Blue Island Historical Society (BIHS) brings together people interested in the history of the historic city and its people. This weekend we are hosting a series of events, many of which will take you through the city's historic buildings and sites. We bring hundreds of residents and visitors to celebrate the 175th anniversary of our historic cities, to celebrate the houses and to celebrate important beautification projects.
We are also proud to be sponsored by the Blue Island Sun - Standard and founded by our founder Dr. D.D. "Duck" Smith and his wife Don.
This horticultural society was later renamed the Chicago Horticultural Society and now operates the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. It is located on a 100-acre, unspoiled prairie land of Illinois, which consists of a beautiful reserve where future generations can learn and enjoy.
Blue Island borders the city of Chicago and shares its northern border with Morgan Park. The location of Blue Island Village is beautiful: it shares the same name as the Chicago Botanical Garden. In a letter to his wife, Dr. Alfred E. Brown, in the early 20th century, he made the following observations about the appearance of this young community.
There were several churches and the home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Eleanor was also located in the area.
History buffs can enjoy the historic Albee House, run by the Blue Island Historical Society. The house was built by Carlton Wadhams (1810 - 1891), who moved from Goshen, Connecticut, to Blue Island in 1839 and farmed land north of the village before opening the American House Hotel in 1844, which is still preserved today.
Wadhams made his first fortune in Blue Island, where he stayed for three years before selling his holdings and moving to South Bend, Indiana, around 1843, where he moved to Covington, New York, and then Portland, Maine. To recognize Portland's existence, the state had to designate "1843" as the year it was granted incorporation under a special law. There was no statute approved by the State of Illinois until March 7, 1867, but it was incorporated as a village with the name it was always known as.
In 1844 the building was dismantled, sent down the Little Calumet River on a raft and reassembled on Blue Island. He used his influence to change the name of the local post office from "Blue Island" to "Portland" in certain circumstances, which would have caused anger among the people of Blue Island over time. African Americans who were excluded from the city were incorporated into the Robbins in 1917. Italians, Poles and Slovaks settled on the Blue Island in the 1900s and 1920s. This was accomplished on May 1, 1839, with the help of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Blue Island remained a modest four square miles, while Chicago grew to annex its neighbors at some point. The Blue Islanders got to see what happened to their neighbor Morgan Park before it was swallowed up by Chicago in 1914. Peloquin says residents brought a small - but true - story about the post office to the unveiling. Once they had beaten back Chicago, they could have pulled it back with the help of the City of Chicago and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
But Blue Island prevailed because its boundaries, north and south, were the same as those of the city of Chicago with Morgan Park and Oak Park. At the time of the annexation, Oak Park on its western border was bounded by the Chicago River and the Illinois River to the east and west, and Chicago to the north.
The city of Blue Island occupied the surrounding plains, and most of the residents of that part were Hispanic. The layout is embedded in the Sanborn map of 1911, which was founded in 1856 for the Busch Brandt Brewery and merged with the United Breweries in 1898. The Blue Island Downtown is home to the two major breweries, the Chicago Beer Company and Illinois Brewing Company. Both were the first of four institutions of this kind to have operated in the Blue Islands for many years.
The building was demolished in 1935 and the Blue Island brickyard reopened as a warehouse for the Chicago Beer Company and Illinois Brewing Company. Almost all of the remains buried there were taken to Mt. Greenwood Cemetery in Chicago, which was developed by the citizens of Blue Island. Although the cemetery was expanded and improved in the following years, it was closed in 1953 by village decree and relocated in 1958.
The suburb is growing again, "said John D'Amato, a former Blue Island resident and former Illinois State Board of Education member whose own family lived on Blue Island in 1914. He says the diversity of Blue Island still sets it apart from other suburbs like Chicago, Chicago Heights and Oak Park.