The Ridge

From HistoryWiki

Immigrant Luxembourgers, whether living in Rogers Park or mostly in West Ridge, referred to the ridge that Ridge Boulevard runs on as "The Ridge." They frequently said or wrote that they lived on or near "the Ridge".

What we now know as Ridge Boulevard, is the top of the second sandy glacial moraine formed 14,000 years ago as the shore of prehistoric Lake Chicago. A third lower moraine formed from a subsequent glacial event on what is now Clark Street. The first ridge was as far west as Gross Point Road in Skokie and Evanston.

The elevated area of the ridge was a woodland, likely fire-managed by the Native Americans. To the east, the north/south ridges prevented drainage and the lower areas between them were marshy and impenetrable in most seasons. To the west of the ridge, just west of present day Western Avenue, there was a meandering tributary of the Chicago River that flowed into Lake Michigan near present-day Wilmette Harbor; this waterway overlaid a clay deposit that held water and caused seasonal flooding.

Traditionally, the Native Americans did not create permanent settlements here, but used the high ground of these glacial moraines as a hunting, raiding and trading path connecting their settlements near the southern edge of Lake Michigan with other tribes in Wisconsin, and exploited the marshland for its seasonal bounties.

During the century and a half after Marquette and Joliet’s expedition through this area in 1674, this area continued to be used mainly as a transit route by Native Americans, missionaries, fur trappers and traders.

In 1809 a travelers inn was established at the Rowe’s Hill (Rosehill) intersection near present day Ridge Avenue and Clark Street.

In the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis, the U.S. government negotiated the “purchase” from the Pottawatami Nation of a ten mile wide strip of land from Lake Michigan to the Illinois River, parallel to the Chicago River, which was envisioned to be developed as the link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system. The north boundary of this treaty line, the Indian Boundary Line, is now the location of Rogers Avenue.

To support military action in the “Black Hawk War,” in 1832, Congress authorized the construction of a military and post road along the Ridge trail connecting Fort Dearborn in Chicago with Fort Howard in Green Bay. This road evolved to include the Frink, Walker & Co. Stagecoach line.

In the 1833 Treaty of Chicago, the entire Native American population was excluded from Illinois and relocated to reservations. A few stragglers remained, setting up small village at the intersection of Ridge Boulevard and Rogers Avenue.