Miscellaneous

Q: What is the history of the development of the political wards in Elmhurst?
A:
Elmhurst had a village form of government from 1882-1910. During those years there was a Board of Trustees elected at large from the village’s voting population. In 1910 Elmhurst changed to a city form of government, so the city was divided into 3 geographical wards, and 2 aldermen represented each ward. As the population grew, the number of wards increased. In 1916, following large annexations of land (Annexation Map(PDF)) the City Council passed an ordinance increasing the number of wards to 4. In 1927 since the City of Elmhurst “had a population considerable in excess of five thousand inhabitants and the area of the City was recently greatly increased by the annexation of certain territory,” the City increased the number of wards to 5. Thirty years later (November 1957), in the midst of a post-War population boom, the City redistricted from 5 to 7 wards following a special census in June 1957, which showed Elmhurst population had increased to 34,654. “By virtue of said census it is required that the present number of wards into which said City is divided shall be increased from five to seven.” Please see the Historic Maps(PDF) section for the current wards.

Q: I know that Elmhurst celebrated its Centennial (100 years) in 1936. However, I have a booklet, The Elmhurst Story, which is a 50th anniversary commemorative dated 1960. Can you explain?
A:
In 1936 Elmhurst had a 10-day celebration in honor of the 100th anniversary of the first settlers coming to the area. In 1960- 1961 Elmhurst celebrated the 50th anniversary of its incorporation as a City form of government. The festivities included an open house in all of the Elmhurst churches, bus tours of 24 historical locations, a tea honoring “old timers” at Elmhurst Public Library, a parade and a fair at York Community High School.

Q: My mother had a series of Elmhurst historical plates. Can you tell me more about them?
A:
York State Bank, 536 S York Street, released a series of six plates from 1982 - 1987 which featured various historical scenes of Elmhurst. A limited run of 1,000 plates were produced each year with images designed by Elmhurst artist Paul Jirousek. Subjects included Hill Cottage Tavern (shown here), Elmhurst Public Library in Wilder Mansion, Glos Mansion, Old Main at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst Memorial Hospital and York State Bank in its original location.

Q: What are Dresden ornaments?
A:
This delicate swan from the Elmhurst Historical Museum collection is an example of what is known as a Dresden ornament. These rare, intricate paper ornaments were made in the Dresden-Leipzig area in Germany, primarily from approximately the mid-1800s until the early 1900s. The handmade ornaments were made of stamped and die-cut cardboard in a variety of shapes that were not necessarily traditional holiday designs; animals, boats, windmills, and musical instruments were common themes. The museum’s collection includes 45 Dresden ornaments.

Q: What can you tell me about the old residential street lamps from the 1960s?
A:
The City of Elmhurst began the installation of ornamental lamp posts (pictured at left) and artistic lamp fixtures in the mid-1920s. The system was considered state-of-the art for its time. They were designed to give the most illumination for the least cost of operation. Each post was made of solid concrete with a hollow center to contain the wiring. The lanterns were solid bronze with 16 glass panels. A five-year plan to replace the ornamental street lights started in 1972. The early street lights may still be seen on the Union Pacific RR/Metra platform and on the Illinois Prairie Path in Elmhurst.

Q: What does the name "Elmhurst" mean?
A:
Elmhurst is an Old English name meaning "a grove of elms." When Elmhurst was first founded there were very few trees in the area, and the new village was named Cottage Hill, IL. However, after early settlers made a concerted effort to plant trees, the community was renamed Elmhurst in 1870.

Q: What can you tell me about the Independence Day parade and the Jaycees’ involvement? Also, what happened to the Independence Day parade in 2009?
A:
According to Elmhurst Press articles, Elmhurst residents went to Lombard or Villa Park for Independence Day parades during the 1930s. In 1941 T.H.B. Post 187, the American Legion post in Elmhurst, sponsored a day of activities at East End Park including games, races, music, baseball games and fireworks on July 4th. The American Legion continued to organize festivities throughout the 1940s. A 1954 editorial in the Elmhurst Press (July 1, 1953) announced that it would be “A Quiet Fourth in Elmhurst.” The American Legion, which had depended on voluntary contributions from local residents to defray the expenses of the Independence Day celebrations, did not have enough money to continue the tradition. The editorial urged residents to revive the Independence Day activities. The Elmhurst Junior Chamber of Commerce responded to the call and in 1954 the Jaycees hosted a model airplane flying exhibition, guest speakers, an 8-act pageant of American history and fireworks. The Jaycees hosted a city-wide celebration again in 1955, and in 1956 they added a parade to the schedule. This became an annual tradition. On April 6, 2009, due to a decrease in revenues for the City of Elmhurst, the City Council cut $1.5 million when it passed the 2009-2010 budget. The cuts included a reduction in community grants provided to varied organizations - including the Jaycees. As a result, the Jaycees were financially unable to present an Independence Day parade as of 2009. For more information, go to the Historic Highlights(PDF) section.

Q: Can you tell me the various locations of the Independence Day fireworks in Elmhurst over the years?
A:
In the 1920s the Elmhurst Golf Club (west of Grace Street and north of Elm Park Avenue) hosted fireworks on July 4th. Other locations over the years included East End Park, Butterfield Park, Eldridge Park and Berens Park.