Like much of the far Northwest neighborhoods of Chicago, the land now known as Forest Glen was once inhabited by the Pottawatomie Indians. The tribe established camps along the Chicago River, which winds its way through the northern edge of present-day Forest Glen (bound by Foster Avenue to the south, Cicero Avenue to the east, Laramie Avenue to the west and the River Forest Glen Woods to the north). This area had an abundance of natural resources and untouched woodlands that included large Birch trees from which the Pottawatomie made their canoes.
Billy Caldwell is storied to be the first settler in this neck of the woods, followed by Captain William Hazelton, who really set the foundation for the community of Forest Glen. He built its very first farm, orchard and grocery store. In fact, Hazelton’s orchards produced the bulk of cherries sold in the Chicago market at the time. Hazelton was somewhat of a puritan, though. He personally screened every family that wanted to move into the area, making sure only those who abided by his strict no smoking, no drinking and no carousing rules were allowed to reside there. Even after the community was annexed to Chicago in 1889 (one of the last to do so), Hazelton continued his rigorous selection practice up until he died in 1918.
With Hazelton and his “no revelry laws” out of the picture, the residents of Forest Glen were free to party at will. The scenic forested area surrounding the neighborhood became a destination for social gatherings and celebrations in the 1920s. Unfortunately, the Great Depression and the demolition of several favorite hangouts curbed the jovial mood in Forest Glen and it lost its reputation as a festive social center.
Today, Forest Glen is a tight-knit community of around 550 households, the majority of which are single-family homes built in the 1940s. These include a variety of architectural styles ranging from bungalows and cottages to Georgians and English Tudors, with a traditional row house making an appearance here and there. The original home of good ole’ Captain Hazelton is still around, too. It remains a community landmark—and a reminder of Forest Glen’s rich history.
Many of Forest Glen’s residents have lived in the neighborhood for generations. Its forest preserve continues to be the community’s most coveted treasure, located just past its northernmost street between the Metra Line train tracks and Cicero Avenue. Despite its small size, the neighborhood has its own parades, activities and, yes, social get-togethers. When people need a little more action, though, the city is easily accessible via the Metra Line commuter rail (its stop is at the intersection of Forest Glen and Elston avenues). Or hop in the car and get on the Edens Expressway (I-94), which runs just east of the neighborhood’s eastern border and hooks up with the Kennedy just south of Forest Glen.