The story of Northlake shows how patience, practicality, hard work, and determination will lead to success. The community, named for the intersection of North Avenue and Lake Street, was started in 1941, but was primarily built during the post-World War II housing boom. Incorporated in 1949, it was a town that in many respects was built backwards. The houses were built as “shells,” with the interiors left for the new homeowners to finish after they moved in.
There were no curbs, sidewalks, streetlights, or storm or sanitary sewers, only gravel roads that fell apart after every winter or frequent flood plagued the area. Each home was served by its own septic system and water was provided by a central well.
Yet somehow, the determination and sacrifice of the residents, with no master plan or guidance, transformed the town into the solid community we enjoy today. Those returning World War II veterans were determined to make our community a success, finishing their homes, installing sewers, building the library, schools, parks and churches, solving the recurrent flooding problems, and ensuring a strong economic base with large commercial and industrial areas.
Northlake is still a work in progress as we continue to build on the strong foundation laid by those early residents, who could have just as easily moved to another community rather than putting in the hard work to make our community the success it is today. Our thanks go to these early pioneers of the postwar Chicago suburban movement.