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John C. Frycek, PPS, LPD
President of SSL
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Lake Forest is a city located in Lake County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 19,375. The city is along the shore of Lake Michigan, and is a part of the Chicago metropolitan area and the North Shore.
Lake Forest was founded together with Lake Forest library; it was laid out as a town in 1900, and was a stop for travelers making their way north to Evanston. The Lake Forest City Hall, designed by Charles Sumner Frost, was completed in 1998. It originally housed the fire department, the Lake Forest Library, and city offices. The city used restrictive covenants to bar "African-Americans and Jews from purchasing property in Lake Forest", a practice that "continued at least until the 1960s", but which seems to have been "greatly diminished" by the 1990s.
According to the 2010 census, Lake Forest has a total area of 17.246 square miles (44.67 km2), of which 17.18 square miles (44.50 km2) (or 99.62%) is land and 0.066 square miles (0.17 km2) (or 0.38%) is water.
As Lake Forest was first developed in 1857, the planners laid roads that would provide limited access to the city in an effort to prevent outside traffic and isolate the tranquil settlement from neighboring areas. Though the town is considerably more accessible today, due in part to the extensive new construction taking place further west, the much smaller neighborhood of eastern Lake Forest, near the coast of Lake Michigan, remains relatively secluded. It is one of the most scenic, historical, and architecturally significant suburbs of Chicago. These neighborhoods include estates and homes designed by distinguished architects such as Howard Van Doren Shaw, David Adler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Arthur Heun, Jerome Cerny, Henry Ives Cobb, and modernist George Fred Keck, among others. Landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Jens Jensen also designed projects in Lake Forest. Market Square, designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw, was completed in 1916 as a commercial center for Lake Forest.
The secluded style of Lake Forest was intended as a form of protection. According to the president of the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society, the captains of industry and upper-class elite who first settled in Lake Forest sought a refuge from late 19th and early 20th-century Chicago. In their view, the city was overrun with immigrants from southern and eastern Europe who had dangerous socialist ideas and indulged in excessive alcoholic consumption.
Country clubs became important centers of social activity in Lake Forest's early decades. The Onwentsia Club was, in the words of one writer, "the premiere social and sporting club in the Midwest". In 1898, members held a plantation-themed party, dining on fried chicken, corn on the cob, and watermelon served by—in keeping with the party's theme—"little colored girls". After-dinner entertainment included a minstrel show. This was a period in United States history in which there was considerable interest in Southern culture and the mythical plantation society. Both the North and South were active in memorializing their contributions to the Civil War, as well as achieving a kind of reconciliation that, according to historian David W. Blight, pushed issues of race to the side.
One of Lake Forest's most notable features is its virgin prairies and other nature preserves. In 1967, a group of 12 long-time residents of Lake Forest formed a land conservationorganization, Lake Forest Open Lands Association. Its express purpose was to purchase or otherwise set aside the rapidly disappearing open spaces in the city, in the interests of preserving animal habitat, restoring ecosystems, and providing environmental education for the city's children. In the next 38 years, the group managed to acquire more than 700 acres (2.8 km2) within the city limits, which now form six nature preserves with 12 miles (19 km) of walking trails open to the public.
Preserved in perpetuity are wetlands, original pre-1830 prairie, woodland, and savanna, all within the community. The restoration of these lands is celebrated by an annual "Bagpipes and Bonfire" event in September, which started as a community event in which controlled fires were burned to clear underbrush and preserve the savannah. From an early time, the playing of bagpipes has accompanied the community gathering, as the town had numerous Scots-Irish residents in its early years. This has also been an annual fundraising event for Lake Forest Open Lands Association.
The Ragdale Foundation, an artists' community and residence, is located in Lake Forest. Formerly Howard Van Doren Shaw's summer retreat and built in 1897, the estate has accommodated notable artist Sylvia Shaw Judson.
In 1992, Lake Forest gained national attention when it attempted to ban the sale of offensive music to anyone under the age of 18. City council members used existing ordinances against obscenity—defined in the codes as "morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion"—to buttress their campaign. Mayor Charles Clarke stated, "If they sell an obscene tape to somebody underage, we will prosecute." The person who came up most frequently in discussions of obscene content was Ice-T, a rapper who has since also performed as an actor.
Lake Forest has been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of its commitment to community forest. As of 2006, Lake Forest had received this national honor for 26 years. The actor Mr. T notably angered the town by cutting down more than 100 oak trees on his estate, in what is now referred to as the "Lake Forest Chain Saw Massacre."
Former Marshall Field's at Market Square; closed as of January 2008
Entrance to department store on Market Square, documenting name change; closed as of January 2008
Commercial development in Lake Forest is focused in three areas, two of which have public railway stations. The central business district includes a Metra commuter railroad station on the Union Pacific/North Line. It extends beyond Market Square, providing a mixture of retail, banking, and professional services, as well as restaurants. Market Square is composed of a wide variety of shops and restaurants, including Talbots, Williams-Sonoma, J.Crew, and Einstein Bros. Bagels. The business district to the west includes a Metra commuter railroad station on the Milwaukee District/North Line. It extends beyond Settlers' Square to provide a mixture of retail, banking and professional services, as well as restaurants. A third area of business development, consisting mostly of corporate and office space, has been developed along the city's northwestern border with the Tri-State Tollway.
The headquarters of Fortune 500 companies Tenneco, Brunswick, and Hospira are located in Lake Forest; Covered Logistics, IDEX, Packaging Corporation of America, Pactiv, Prestone, and Trustmark also have their headquarters in Lake Forest, while W. W. Grainger and BFG Technologies are located in unincorporated Lake County, near Lake Forest. The Chicago Bears training facility and headquarters, Halas Hall, opened in 1997 in west Lake Forest, and the Chicago Fire now train at the Bears' previous facility located on the campus of Lake Forest.
Lake Forest is the base for Linking Efforts Against Drugs (LEAD), a national organization aimed at discouraging youth from getting involved in drugs. It empowers parents and community members to encourage the drug-free choice.
According to Lake Forest's 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are: