We all know Chicago’s MLB baseball teams play at either Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field, but have you ever wondered where the city’s aspiring pros learn Big League skills? It’s here in Peterson Park at Thillens Stadium, where Little League baseball and softball have been played since the 1930s. An all-American slice of life for decades, early Peterson Park residents have cheered their Little League players on for nearly 70 years. Families gather at the stadium (equipped with flood lights for night games) to enjoy one of our greatest traditions, made possible by the Thillens family, who loved playing softball on the prairie and built this professional-grade park to accommodate their favorite pastime.
Long before the Thillens and modern-day Peterson Park residents moved in, the Potawatomi tribe lived in the area near the Chicago River’s North Branch, in what would later become Peterson Park neighborhood (bound by Devon Avenue to the north, Peterson Avenue to the south, Pulaski Road to the west and the Chicago River to the east). In the 1850s, European pioneers from Germany, Luxembourg and Sweden came across this gorgeous riverside setting and established their farms along the mineral-rich banks. Swedish horticulturalist, Pehr Samuel Peterson, started a landscape business and thanks to the 500 acres of property he obtained and cultivated, his nursery helped blanket the city’s parks and neighborhoods with plants and trees. Following his death in early 1900, Peterson’s heirs gave a significant piece of land to the city, which was later turned into Peterson Park Grounds, located just southwest of the neighborhood’s southern boundary.
Although it was primarily farmland until the late 1800s, academics saw an opportunity to develop Chicago’s northwest side into a collegiate campus. North Park College was built one mile south of Peterson Park and, recognizing the value of this ideal area, Northeastern University established its campus here as well. With the construction of the schools came a twenty-year building frenzy, beginning in 1910, to create new homes for the influx of students and families. Bungalows and two-flats sprung up in the area, establishing block after block of residential subdivisions. In the mid-1950s, Chicago got its first modern shopping center at the cross section of Peterson and Lincoln avenues to accommodate the needs of the growing population. The retail center, called Lincoln Village, continues to be the epicenter for Peterson Park retail stores. In addition to name-brand shops and big box stores, it has a movie theater and plenty of parking spaces!
Chicago neighborhood and real estate information