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Western Springs is a village located in Cook County, Illinois, United States and is a suburb of Chicago. As of the 2010 census, the village had a total population of 12,975. It is twinned with Rugeley, United Kingdom.
In November, 2007, BusinessWeek.com listed Western Springs second in a list of the 50 best places to raise children.The rankings were based on five factors, including school test scores, cost of living, recreational and cultural activities, number of schools and risk of crime. Western Springs ranked behind Groesbeck, Ohio.

Western Springs, an affluent suburb located along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) between Chicago and Aurora, encompasses roughly the area between Willow Springs Road (Gilbert Avenue), Ogden Avenue, Interstate 294, and West Plainfield Road. Named for local mineral springs on the southwest side of town, Western Springs originally consisted of flat prairie land with a swamp on its western border.

Around the turn of the 18th century, nomadic Potawatomi Native Americans settled in the Western Springs area. It is unclear whether they built a village, but evidence of temporary campsites has been found near Flagg Creek in Forest Hills. The natives were gone by the end of 1835, but Potawatomi artifacts may still be found buried in the Springdale neighborhood. The last Cook County campground of the Potawatomi was within what is now the Timber Trails subdivision.

The first known settler in the area near Western Springs was Elijah Wentworth. By 1834, after the Black Hawk War, farmer Joseph Vial had moved from New York and built a cabin along what is now Plainfield Road, an ex-Native American trail in the south of Western Springs. This cabin served as a stagecoach station, hotel, general store, and post office for the entire area.

The CB&Q Railroad built a line through Western Springs in 1863, filling in much of the west-side swamp in the process. In 1870 the Western Springs Land Association, consisting of promoter Thomas Clarkson Hill, William Page, and two sons of Phillip F. W. Peck, bought the three tracts that make up the area for $105,000.

A large number of early residents were Quakers, and deeds often prohibited the sale of alcohol. In 1872 Hill moved to the area from Chicago, and the community began organizing to attract more commuters. Residents built a wooden schoolhouse (1872) and a post office (1873). Over time, with increased commuter settlement, Western Springs came to look less and less Quaker.

In 1885 the Grand Avenue School replaced the wooden schoolhouse, and the office of village marshal was created as a combination policeman, dogcatcher, and groundskeeper. In 1886 the Friend's Church (razed in 1958) was built on the corner of Walnut and Woodland. That same year Western Springs incorporated as a village by a public vote of 34 to 25. The voting townspeople elected a prominent Quaker developer, T. C. Hill, as the town's first president.

After the spring dried up in 1890, the village hired engineers Edgar and Benezette Williams to build the village waterworks system, including the famous water tower. Constructed using Naperville stone, the tower stood 112 feet (34 m) high. Replaced in 1962, it became a museum in 1970 and entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

Western Springs added many improvements over the years, including a fire department (1894), electric plant (1898), telephones (1899), a park district (1923), and a library (1926). The village expanded south of 47th Street, annexing the subdivisions of Forest Hills (1927), Springdale (1955), and Ridgewood (1973). On March 21, 2005, the Village of Western Springs annexed the former Timber Trails golf course which is now being developed into a new community of single-family homes and townhomes. The property added 105.9 acres (0.429 km2) to the village.

Like many western suburbs, a number of Western Springs' older homes have been renovated or replaced with more expensive housing, upsetting a multitude of residents.


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