The quaint city of Geneva is a growing Chicago suburb offering the best of both worlds: a deep appreciation for its rich past and an enthusiastic outlook for its promising future. Today, Geneva is home to approximately 22,000 residents and welcomes thousands of visitors annually who take pleasure in its distinctive hometown atmosphere. With its location along the scenic Fox River, Geneva benefits from a beautiful backdrop for its charming shopping district, year-round festivals and a myriad of recreational opportunities.
Geneva’s storied past begins with the arrival of its first settler, Daniel Shaw Haight, in the early 1830s. After building a cabin along the Fox River, he chose to relocate and sold his land to James and Charity Herrington in 1835. By 1836, the town was selected as the site of the new county seat.
Early names of the settlement included “Big Spring,” “Herrington’s Ford” and “La Fox.” Ultimately, the town was christened “Geneva”—a name that was adopted from a city in upstate New York. The suggestion most likely came from Dr. Charles Volney Dyer, a Chicago resident and noted abolitionist who had recently traveled to New York. James Herrington proved to be an influential person in the establishment of Geneva. Prior to his untimely death in 1839 at the age of 41, Herrington platted the new town, served as sheriff and established the first post office, tavern and general store.
The advent of the railroad in 1853 was an important development in Geneva’s history, placing the town on a main line offering both commuter and freight rail service. Along with the railroad came a surge of Swedish immigrants who helped construct the railroad and many chose to stay in the fledgling town. Geneva was officially incorporated as a village in 1858, followed by incorporation as a city in 1887.
The Geneva of today has preserved its charming historic essence, distinguished by peaceful tree-lined streets with many well-maintained homes from the mid- to late-19th Century. While this unique historical character remains intact, Geneva has experienced thoughtful development with the incorporation of superior educational and healthcare resources, vibrant arts and cultural offerings and a dynamic business climate.