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Park Forest is a village located south of Chicagomarker in Cook Countymarker and Will County, Illinoismarker, United States. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 23,462. Park Forest is bordered by Chicago heights and Olympia Fields to the north, South Chicago Heights and Steger to the east, Crete and University Park to the south, and Richton Park and Matteson to the west.


Building developers Nathan Manilow, Carroll F. Sweet and Philip M. Klutznick held a press conference in the Palmer House in Chicagomarker on October 28 1946 to announce the planned development of a new self-governing community in Chicago's south suburbs. This project, soon to be referred to as Park Forest, was to be developed by American Community Builders (ACB). The Village of Park Forest was designed by Elbert Peets in the tradition of planned communities around the nation to provide housing for veterans returning from World War II. Park Forest was honored in 1954 as an "All-America City" for its citizens' help in the creation of Rich Township High School, on Sauk Trail. It was awarded this same honor again in 1976 for open housing and racial integration and initiatives. A village landmark was the Park Forest Plaza, an outdoor regional shopping center of over 50 stores and restaurants which included Sears, Marshall Fields and Goldblatt's.

In 1956, William Whyte, an editor at Fortune magazine, published a book called The Organization Man that defined the nature of corporate life for a generation. The book described how America (whose people, he said, had “led in the public worship of individualism”) had recently turned into a nation of employees who “take the vows of organization life” and who had become “the dominant members of our society”. Park Forest was one of the communities that figured most prominently in Whyte's study of the home life of "the organization man," and should be read by anyone seeking an insight into early Park Forest.Although officially desegregated from its inception, Park Forest's first African-American family took residence there in 1959.

Park Forest is known for the "Scenic 10," a 10 mile race held annually on Labor Day that attracts runners from around the globe. In 2008, the race was shortened to a five-mile course to attract more local runners and renamed the "Scenic Five." Park Forest is also the hometown of David Metcalf, named not only the most interesting man alive but also People's "Sexiest Man Alive" 2010.

On March 26, 2003, a meteor exploded over the Midwest, showering Park Forest with dozens of meteorite fragments. These fragments are currently on display at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. For further reading see Park Forest marker.


Park Forest is located at 41°29′2″ North, 87°41′13″ West (41.483979, -87.687054) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 4.9 square miles (12.8 km²), of which, 4.9 square miles (12.8 km²) of it is land and none of it is covered by water. The village is generally bounded by U.S. Highway 30 on the north, Western Avenue on the east, tracks of Canadian National Railway formerly Illinois Central on the west and Thorn Creek on the south. Parts of Park Forest are east of Western Avenue, however. Park Forest is bisected by the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway double track main line.


Metra operates commuter railroad service to downtown Chicagomarker. Stations bordering Park Forest include the 211th Street marker and Matteson marker stations on the Metra Electric Line, which runs parallel to the Canadian National Railway (former Illinois Central) but on its own closely adjacent tracks.


The village is actually quite hilly. This is especially evident in the Forest Preserves scattered around and near the village. The land is characteristic of steep ravines and hills. Also, near or bordering the village is Sauk Lakemarker, bordered by steep, sandy bluffs on each side. The village borders the Valparaiso Moraine.


As of the census of 2000, there were 23,462 people, 9,138 households, and 6,186 families residing in the village. The population density was 4,763.6 people per square mile (1,837.5/km²). There were 9,470 housing units at an average density of 1,922.7/sq mi (741.7/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 55.42% White, 39.41% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.82% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.54% from other races, and 2.50% from two or more races. 4.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,138 households out of which 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the village the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.1 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $47,579, and the median income for a family was $55,801. Males had a median income of $41,970 versus $31,063 for females. The per capita income for the village was $21,493. 6.7% of the population and 5.2% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 8.5% of those under the age of 18 and 6.1% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Park Forest is in Illinois' 2nd congressional district.

Arts & Culture

Notable Park Foresters

See also


  1. Scenic race down to 5, but still alive :: The SouthtownStar :: Matteson :: Park Forest :: University Park :: Richton Park ::
  2. Running Club Works With Village to Secure Future of Scenic 10
  3. APOD: 2003 May 6 - A Chicago Meteorite Fall
  4. Scott Freeman, Midnight Riders: The Story of The Allman Brothers Band, 1995, p. 36
  5. Art Hodes & Chadwick Hansen, Hot Man: The Life of Art Hodes, p. 89

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