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Forest Park (formerly Harlem) is a village in Cook Countymarker, Illinoismarker, a suburb of Chicagomarker in the United States. The population was 15,688 at the 2000 census. The Forest Parkmarker train stop on the CTA Blue Line is the line's western terminus, located on the Eisenhower Expressway at Des Plaines Avenue.


Forest Park is located at (41.873031, -87.811155) .


As of the census of 2000, there were 15,688 people, 7,632 households, and 3,480 families residing in the village. The population density was 6,480.8 people per square mile (2,503.0/km²). There were 7,981 housing units at an average density of 3,297.0/sq mi (1,273.3/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 56.14% White, 31.18% African American, 0.15% Native American, 6.83% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 2.80% from other races, and 2.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.84% of the population, including 5.6% Mexican.

The top five non-African American, non-Hispanic ethnicities reported in Forest Park as of the 2000 census were German (15.9%), Irish (14.6%), Italian (8.1%), English (5.9%) and Polish (5.3%).

There were 7,632 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.9% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.4% were non-families. 45.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the village the population was spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 39.8% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $44,103, and the median income for a family was $52,611. Males had a median income of $39,402 versus $32,255 for females. The per capita income for the village was $26,045. About 6.3% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.5% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.


Forest Park is divided between three congressional districts. The area east of the Des Plaines River and south of Harrison Street is in Illinois' 3rd congressional district, except for the area northeast of Elgin Avenue and 13th Street; the area north of the Eisenhower Expressway and east of Van Buren Street is in the 7th district; the area in between (primarily consisting of Concordia and Forest Home cemeteries and a city park) is part of the 4th district.

The United States Postal Service operates the Forest Park Post Office at 417 Des Plaines Avenue.


  • St. Bernardine Catholic Church, built in a Spanish Mission style was designed by McCarthy, Smith, and Eppig. The firm worked extensively with George Cardinal Mundelein and produced numerous Chicago area Catholic churches during the Great Depression era, including St. Wenceslaus in Chicagomarker, as well as St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier churches in Wilmettemarker.
  • The Ferrara Pan Candy Company is located at 7301 W. Harrison St. The company was founded in 1908 by Salvatore Ferrara who came to America from Nola, Italy in 1900. The use of the word pan refers to the process of making the candy by the Cold panned process.
  • The Haymarketmarker Martyrs' Monument is in Forest Home Cemetery.
  • Forest Park is the future home of the 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame, to be built on Harrison and Desplaines Ave.

Village life

The Park District of Forest Park, located near the center of the village, has a park, with an aquatic center. Shopping is mostly located on Madison Street. Previously known for many taverns, it now also features antique merchants, boutiques, and eating establishments.

Every summer, in the last few days of July and first few of August, Forest Park's Park District plays host to the Forest Park No Glove National Invitational Softball Tournament. This is an invitational to all the best 16-inch softball teams in Chicagolandmarker (and sometimes from other regions). The game is slow-pitch softball played without gloves, a favorite in Chicagolandmarker.

Every autumn the town hosts an Oktoberfestmarker.

The city has several industries, but two of the prominent ones are Mohr Oil and Ferrara Pan Candy Co. The candy factory can be seen and smelled from the Harlem Blue Line stop. Mohr Oil can only be seen from there.

The main street Madison has a bustling downtown with many diverse restaurants and bars. Recently it was voted by the readers of the Chicago Tribune as the "Best Neighborhood Dining" in Chicagoland. Some the restaurants include Cafe DeLuca, Louie's Grill and Jimmy's Place. Nightlife is strong in Forest Park with some thirty-three bars, the largest of which are Doc Ryans, Healy's Westside and Slainte.

The town is served by a weekly newspaper, the Forest Park Review, coming out every Wednesday. It is printed by Wednesday Journal, Inc.


For much of its history, Forest Park was known as a "city of cemeteries," with more dead "residents" than living ones; some figures estimate the ratio at 30:1, dead to alive. Forest Park cemeteries include: Altenheim, German Waldheimmarker (now merged into Forest Home), Jewish Waldheim, Woodlawn (including Showmen's Rest), and Concordiamarker. Forest Home cemetery is home to the famous Haymarket Riotmarker monument.

Forest Park was also once host to the Forest Park Amusement Park, a small but popular amusement park at the end of the train lines. Prohibition, however, dealt a financial blow to the park and it closed. Its former location is now occupied by the Forest Park stationmarker on CTA's Blue Line at Desplaines Ave.

Forest Park is also home for the 24 year old professional (non-equity) theatre company, Circle Theatre. Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times writes: “One of the most consistently satisfying theatrical operations in the area ...everything from classics to new American plays at its very best.” Circle Theatre has produced over 175 productions and received over 80 Joseph Jeffersion (JEFF) nominations and won over 30 Jeff Awards. Notable visits from famous playwrights have included Marvin Hamlisch, Rupert Holmes, Douglas Post, Michael John LaChiusa, Stephen Clark and Rebecca Gilman. Rebecca Gilman had her first play produced at Circle Theatre before becoming one of America's leading playwrights. Notable supporters have included Harry Connick Jr and Russel Crowe.

Women's professional baseball/softball has roots in Forest Park. Emery Parichy's Bloomer Girls.

The community (formerly part of a larger town called Harlem) officially took the name Forest Park on August 12, 1907. In 2007, the town held a summer-long centennial celebration. Forest Park has also held two other centennial celebrations, one in 1956 for when the first settlers came and one in 1984 for the 100th anniversary of the creation of the town of Harlem.


Public libraries

The Forest Park Public Library is located at 7555 Jackson Boulevard. The current Library building opened on October 8, 1995. It covers over two levels and is completely accessible in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is spacious and comfortable, with more seating and study areas, along with a meeting room, a youth activity room and computer room. The total cost of the building was projected to be $3,295,000, including construction, site improvements, furnishings, computer and security systems, professional and financing costs and contingencies. The funding comes from the Imber Fund, now grown to $900,000, a State of Illinois Construction Grant of $250,000, General Obligation Bonds for $2.9 million and interest income.

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