West Suburban Chicago
View Larger Map of Higley1000 neighborhoods in West Suburban Chicago
The West Suburban cluster of neighborhoods is centered on Oak Brook and Hinsdale. They are the odd couple of Chicago’s suburbs. Hinsdale (the Felix Unger of the two) is older, gracious and stately. Hinsdale’s lovely tree lined streets have been the site of a teardown demolition derby over the last 20 years with the usual local outcry. The two most elite neighborhoods of Hinsdale are the adjacent neighborhoods of Southeast Section and The Woodlands.
Oak Brook is the Oscar Madison of this duo. Oak Brook is the brain child of Paul Butler, the scion of a family that owned a large amount of land where the suburb sits today. The Butler name graces one of the suburbs many golf courses, an elementary school, and a polo ground, Oak Brook is a collection of gated communities and is the most desirable destination for Asians-Americans in the Chicago area. The gated nouveau riche development dubbed The Midwest Club is 40.1% Asian. The similar development of Trinity Lakes is 37.4% Asian. Both have among the highest concentration of wealthy Asians in the United States. The architecture of these neighborhoods tends to the ostentatious McMansion variety (an appropriate allusion as Oak Brook is the site of McDonald’s Corporate Headquarters and Hamburger University). The entire city of Oak Brook was 20.1% Asian (2000 Census). It is interesting that of Oak Brook’s Asian population, 52.5% are Indian and 20.6% are Chinese. Philippinos make up an additional 10.5% if Oak Brook’s population.
Burr Ridge answers the Question of “Where to Build your McMansion when Oak Brook is Built-out?”
Don’t want to teardown a house in Hinsdale or Clarendon Hills? But still want to build that 10,000 square foot trophy house? Burr Ridge is the place for you! The two neighborhoods of Burr Ridge in the Higley 1000 have relatively large Asian populations. Palisades-Oakridge Estates is 14.6% Asian and Devon-Lakewood is 15.7% Asian.
Map of Burr Ridge
View Larger Map of Palisades-Oak Ridge & Devon-Lakewood Neighborhoods
The appearance that wealthy Asians are attracted to gated developments of new homes in the suburbs provides an interesting future research topic for urban geographers.
The 17 neighborhoods in the West Suburban cluster were 86.2% Non-Hispanic Whites and 10.0% Asian. Black (1.6%) and Hispanic (1.2%) household numbers are insignificant. There were 7,470 households in this cluster or 16.4% of Chicago’s Higley 1000 total households.
Beyond the core Hinsdale-Oak Brook cluster there are several noteworthy West Suburban outliers. One of this author’s favorites is River Forest’s central section, a neighborhood graced by eclectic homes from the early parts of the 20th Century. Formerly the favorite of solid citizens as well as Mafia dons, River Forest’s homes have been lovingly maintained. Many of the homes in River Forest have been remodeled and expanded as the downside of the eclectic architecture of the Twenties are small bathrooms, small closets, and small kitchens.
Map of River Forest and Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright Neighborhood
View Larger Map of River Forest Central and Frank Lloyd Wright Neighborhood
Oak Park: A Frank Lloyd Wright Tour de Force
Another noteworthy neighborhood that just missed the Higley 1000 is the core of a collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes in Oak Park. The Block Group that has the Wright homes had a mean household income of $184,868 in 2000, placing it 1004th in the nation.
One may take a variety of tours sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Association located on the Southern edge of this neighborhood. Although Oak Park has a fairly large African-American population, few are found in the Frank Lloyd Wright neighborhood.
Map of the Concentration of African-Americans in Oak Park, Illinois (Block by Block Basis)
In the late Sixties, Oak Park became the center of controversy when the city began a reverse steering program as realtors were trained to steer newly arriving African-Americans to Non-Hispanic White neighborhoods through the Oak Park Housing Center. In spite of the best efforts of the city, Blacks remain clustered in apartment buildings along the city’s Eastern border with Chicago, Austin Boulevard. Although the city as a whole was 22.4% Black in the 2000 Census, the Frank Lloyd Wright neighborhood had a mere 1.7% African-American households.
South Suburban Chicago
View Larger Map of Higley 1000 neighborhoods in South Suburban Chicago
There are only two Higley 1000 neighborhoods in the southern half of Chicagoland: the area around the Flossmoor Country Club and a subdivision adjacent to the Prestwick Country Club in exurban Frankfort. The households around the Flossmoor Country Club were 17.1% Black in the 2000 Census, the highest percentage in the Chicago area by quite a large degree. The second largest percentage of African-Americans (6.3%) is found in the small West Suburban Oak Brook subdivision of Ginger Creek.
I came across an interesting Chicago Sun-Times article from the archives (August 15, 1972) that listed the status of 200 Chicago suburbs by ranking them on four statistics: percentage college graduates; percentage of families with incomes over $25,000 (that’s not a typo!); median family income; and median years of school. What is striking about the listing is that Olympia Fields, a suburb just south of Flossmoor was ranked 4th and Flossmoor was ranked 7th.
By the 2000 Census, there were no neighborhoods in Olympia Fields in the Higley 1000. The Olympia Fields Country Club neighborhood is 51.9% Black, however with a mean household income of $133,210, it would not be in qualify for the second thousand wealthiest neighborhoods. Graymoor is a small subdivision to the east of the Olympia Fields Country Club and has a mean household income of $169,321. Graymoor’s 143 households were 35.6% Black in the 2000 Census. It is always important to remember that the margin of error in very small neighborhoods is wide. It is also important to remember that the reason I have chosen to make the data base 1,000 neighborhoods strong was to counteract this problem.