Oak Park, Illinois was first settled in the 1830s as part of Cicero Township. Its population grew and it became an established suburb after the Chicago Fire of 1871. The Village of Oak Park incorporated as a municipality in 1902. Suburban communities such as Oak Park relied on interurban rail lines for commuters, while local niches emerged that provided goods and services to populations that were communally focused and concentrated within suburban developments. Schools, churches, businesses, and many other features of suburban life, when taken together, came to represent the unique local character of its population.
Residential architecture and architects played a significant role in facilitating the suburban transformation of Oak Park with distinct housing styles and trends that came to define what we see today as the collective historic character of the suburb. As the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright from 1889-1909, Oak Park is a center of the Prairie School of Architecture, containing the largest concentration of Prairie style homes in the country. Other important Prairie School architects worked in Oak Park, including John S. Van Bergen (born and raised in Oak Park), Tallmadge & Watson and E. E. Roberts, who also made his home here.
Oak Park experienced a surge of residential development throughout the first part of the 20th Century and its residential stock is today comprised of a wide range of styles including Victorian, Queen Anne, Prairie, bungalows, American Foursquares, Classical Revival, Tudor Revival and numerous apartment buildings ranging from two-flats to large courtyard buildings, many embellished with architectural details of their period.
In addition, Oak Park has many historic churches, including Wright's Unity Temple, and 12 vibrant commercial districts, many of which include important architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although minimal in comparison to other areas, Oak Park's post-WWII architecture includes infill development and ranges from small ranch homes to larger apartment buildings.