The village of La Grange, founded in 1879, is a west suburban community offering metropolitan living, tree-lined streets, and a quiet neighborhood.
In 1837, Robert Leitch purchased a tract of land from the government. Those 400 acres of property are in what is now La Grange. He was the first person to hold title to property within the future limits of the village. Leitch called his holdings Kensington Heights. However, due to the economic panic of 1837, he had to give up his plan to build a village. In 1870, he sold most of his land to the future wife of 0.E. Layman. She then sold part of tier purchase to Franklin D. Cossitt.
Cossitt developed the village, which was incorporated in 1879. The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad extended to La Grange in the 1860’s, with the first railroad station called Hazel Glen (near Brainard). Eventually, two businessmen, John Uold and John Robb, moved the station to Brainard. They promoted the area, in 1868, as West Lyons. The Burlington became a regular commuter service in the 1870’s. Cossitt, who had come from La Grange, Tennessee, controlled approximately 600 acres when he planned the community. After a vote of the 70 families that lived in the area, it was incorporated on June 11, 1879, as the village of La Grange. The emphasis in the decades that followed was on building homes, schools, and churches. La Grange also became the largest retail center outside of Chicago, boasting 30 stores in its central business district by 1906.
The village grew rapidly, from 500 people in 1879. By 1900, it had 4,000 people, and in 1930, 10,102. Today, its approximate population is 15,000. Surrounding the downtown is an historic district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Districts.
The village has many civic and fraternal clubs. There are churches representing 16 denominations in the village. The La Grange Public Library offers 80,000 volumes. It offers a wide variety of programs for children as well.
Schools have always played an important role in the village. Lyons Township High School was completed at Brainard and Cossitt Avenues in 1889, now known as LT’s north campus, and attended by juniors and seniors. The high school district, which has a south campus in Western Springs, is well known for its academics and extracurricular offerings. Area children attend elementary schools in Districts 102 and 105, as well as several parochial schools.
There are 50 miles of paved roads, and there are seven neighborhood parks. These are in the 16 acres of recreational areas, 4 tennis courts and 14 baseball diamonds. For over fifty years, LaGrange has been the home of the LaGrange Pet Parade. Water is obtained from Lake Michigan.
Many residents work in Chicago and commute by Metra on the Burlington Northern route. The local train takes 30 minutes, but the express arrives in Chicago in approximately 18 minutes. Several PACE bus routes pass through the village including one to O’Hare International Airport. The village is located near three interstate highways: the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290), the Stevenson Expressway (I-55), and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).