4-mile limit

From HistoryWiki

In 1855, Northwestern University amended its original charter to enact a “Four Mile Limit” on the sale and distribution of alcohol around the University. (This was a radial limit.) This was later adopted as an ordinance by Evanston.

The four mile radius prescribed by the Charter extended beyond the city limits of Evanston into Rogers Park as far south as Devon Avenue and the region to its west, which became West Ridge. Rogers Parkers embraced the idea of prohibition while the farmers of what would become West Ridge wanted their taverns.

The local branch of the Cook County Circuit Court was in Evanston. So, whenever a West Ridger was brought up on charges of selling liquor, he would be tried in Evanston. Being dry, a West Ridger never had a chance of being found not-guilty of selling liquor in an Evanston-based courtroom.

This forced, among other reasons, the formation of the Village of West Ridge on November 28, 1890. It was thought that the new Village would have "eminent domain" to license the taverns, bars, and inns to serve and sell liquor within its limits.

The dryness of Evanston lasted until 1971. However, long before then, after prohibition was repealed, Rogers Parkers and West Ridgers freely enjoyed their drinks and Evanstonians would come into Rogers Park and West Ridge to buy their liquor.


RPWRHS photo R044-0236 shows a map of the 4-mile limit. 1891.