Evanston Township: A Historical Overview

Evanston Township, nestled within Cook County, Illinois, was a distinctive civil township from 1857 until its dissolution in 2014. Throughout its existence, the township's boundaries became synonymous with the city of Evanston, housing a population of 74,486 as per the 2010 census.

Origins and Development

The genesis of Evanston Township traces back to the 1830s, with a small community of German and Luxembourger farmers settling near what is now the intersection of Ridge and Devon Avenue. Initially known as Ridgeville, the area saw its first significant transformation with the establishment of Ridgeville Township in April 1850, marked by its inaugural elections.

The township's landscape and demographic were significantly shaped by the founding of Northwestern University in 1853. The university's establishment and the subsequent extension of the railroad catalyzed rapid development within the Evanston community, transforming it into a bustling hub of education and growth.

Evolution of Boundaries

Evanston Township underwent several changes in its boundaries and name over the years. Initially encompassing a broader area, the township's southern portion was designated as Lake View Township and integrated into Chicago, while the northern part retained the Evanston Township name. This division led to the creation of a new Ridgeville Township in 1877, which eventually also came to be known as Evanston Township, aligning closely with the city limits of Evanston.

Dissolution and Legacy

In a historic move, following legislation by the Illinois General Assembly in 2013, the voters of Evanston Township decided to abolish the township in a 2014 referendum. This decision marked Evanston as the third instance in Illinois history where a township was dissolved through public vote. On May 1, 2014, the City of Evanston officially assumed the responsibilities and obligations of Evanston Township, concluding its 157-year history as a civil township.

The story of Evanston Township is a rich narrative of community growth, educational development, and eventual integration into the fabric of the city of Evanston. Its legacy lives on through the vibrant community and the historical significance that continues to define the area.


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