City Desk

By Jeffrey T. Sherwin

Northlake Turns 70

   The City of Northlake will celebrate its 70th anniversary on July 19, 2019. Although July 19 marks the anniversary of incorporation, the community started in the late 1930’s, finally incorporating in 1949.

Growth was rapid during the 1950’s, with a peak population reaching over 15,000 in the late 1960’s.

Northlake has been a work in progress. All of the improvements that we take for granted today were put in place over time. The homes were originally sold as “shells” with the interior to be finished by the new homeowner. The streets were gravel roads lined with drainage ditches. There were no sidewalks, schools, parks, library, City Hall or police station. Water was obtained from a central well in what is now Nagle-Perry Park. There were no sanitary sewers. All homes had their own septic system.

As a lifelong resident, I have witnessed much of the progress in Northlake first hand. Gravel streets were replaced by asphalt in the 1960’s, followed by curbs and storm sewers in the 1980’s. Sanitary sewers and Lake Michigan water came in the 1950’s. The wooden bridges over the creek were replaced in the 1960’s. Sidewalks were built during the 1960’s through the early 2000’s.

Our beautiful library started in a storefront in 1957, moved to a house on Wolf Road, then to its current location in 1964, with the current additions coming in 1993 and 2007. West Leyden High School came in 1959, St. John Vianney in 1952 and the District 83 and 87 schools were built and enlarged in the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s, with completely new buildings for Riley, Northlake Middle and Whittier Schools coming during the 1970’s and early 2000’s.

The City’s system of parks was developed over time, with the new building at Grant Park coming in 2006, and the popular Midland Trail multi use path in 1998.

Industry came and went, and came back, with Northlake remaining a vibrant industrial center. Large retail development took place in the 1990’s.

I have really only scratched the surface of the history and progress of our community. However, we really owe a debt of gratitude to the World War II veterans who settled in Northlake, and laid the groundwork for the schools, parks, library and all of the other improvements which succeeding generations have been able to build upon. This will insure that our community remains vibrant and strong and a great place to raise a family as we move forward.

Our job is to continue to invest in our community so that succeeding generations will be able to continue building upon the foundations laid by the early residents and the progress that followed.

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