Founded in the mid-1800s, the Village of Matteson has come a long way from its days as a center of agricultural trade. Pronounced Mat-te-son, the Village takes its name in honor of the 10th governor of Illinois, Joel Aldrich Matteson. Matteson was incorporated in 1889 and remained a modest community until the 1970s. This decade brought on monumental growth, both in size and scope. The Village annexed an additional 195 acres to its already 1,200-plus acreage, and the popular Lincoln Mall opened its doors in 1973. With this major shopping addition, Matteson became an established retail center in Chicago’s south suburbs. By 1990 Matteson was home to 11,378 people and a growing business community.
Today, Matteson is home to nearly 17,000 residents and a diverse community of more than 400 businesses. In addition to its recognition as a retail hub, Matteson has developed as a prime place for commercial, office and hotel development. Businesses take advantage of an optimal location just off I-57, preeminent sites for relocation and expansion, and a long list of invaluable incentives.
With these great benefits, hardworking professionals and corporate executives are continually looking at opportunities to live in Matteson. Likewise, families are regularly interested in locating here, thanks to the availability of three excellent school districts, nearly 100 acres of developed parkland and numerous recreational sites, as well as quality real estate options.
Matteson offers a wonderful blend of history and new development, living up to its motto, “Matteson, the Crossroads of Heritage and Progress.”
The Village of Olympia Fields owes its establishment to the celebrated game of golf. Charles Beach arrived in this area in the fall of 1913, intent on finding a perfect location to create a new golf course that would appeal to the elite of Chicago. Beach came upon the current-day Village of Olympia Fields and excitedly envisioned his prized golf course there. In partnership with James Gardner, the two developed the sprawling 72-hole Olympia Fields Country Club—a landmark that still stands to this day. The new course certainly helped to attract residents to this newly formed community, which was incorporated in 1927 with Beach serving as the first village president.
The name “Olympia” was submitted by Alonzo Stagg, the first president of the Olympia Fields Country Club in honor of the Olympic games. The addition of “Fields” was taken from the encompassing woodland setting and farmlands. Street names of the settlement’s early subdivisions were developed using a Greek theme, with the Village logo of today depicting Hermes, the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology.
Olympia Fields is now the home to more than 5,100 residents, a dignified office park and an acclaimed hospital campus. Its residential landscape showcases fine executive-style homes supported by a pleasant, safe environment. Recreation is overflowing here, anchored by the Olympia Fields Park District, several quality community parks and the expansive Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center—not to mention the historic Olympia Fields Country Club.
With 23,462 residents, Park Forest is the largest of the five communities in the Chamber service area. Park Forest began as a visionary, master-planned community to provide housing for World War II veterans. The community’s original master plan ensured convenient commercial centers; a child-safe curved street system; a business and light industrial park; and multiple, scattered school and recreational facilities.
The amenities enjoyed by Park Forest residents are unique when compared to those available to residents of towns of similar size. Freedom Hall offers an annual series of outstanding entertainment programs. The recreational system includes 22 parks, as well as a swimming complex, indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, and a 45-acre restored wetlands. A full-service municipal health department provides home visits by registered nurses when citizens need such assistance. DownTown Park Forest remains the commercial and service center of the community. It is a gathering place for public events and a business center for small offices and service providers, and residents can find everything from groceries, a fitness center, two dance schools, a florist, a movie theater and an auto parts store, all within walking distance of many of Park Forest’s neighborhoods.
Over the years, the Village has received many livability citations including two All-America City awards; two Governors Home Town awards; and the Daniel Burnham Award and the Community Vision Award, both of which recognize the success of the redevelopment of DownTown Park Forest. Park Forest has a 50-year commitment to fair housing and remains to this day a place where people of all religious and racial backgrounds are comfortable and at home.
Richton Park’s proud past reaches back in time to the early 1800s, when settlers traveling along the Old Sauk Trail arrived in the area. Since its incorporation in 1926, the Village of Richton Park has experienced immense growth and development all the while maintaining its charming, small-town atmosphere.
The Village remained a modest bedroom community for much of its existence. Part of the booming south suburban Chicago area, its growth was spurred alongside its surrounding communities in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this time, the population of Richton Park surged from less than 1,000 to nearly 10,000 residents. A second wave in growth is occurring today, with predictions placing the community’s population at approximately 15,000 in the coming years.
A prime location, award-winning schools and an amiable atmosphere have contributed to the Village’s steady growth. Families, young professionals and businesses are all attracted to the community’s opportunities in the way of new home building and an increasing presence in the commercial and industrial sectors. Richton Park continues to experience progression and is currently experiencing major westward expansion, along with rejuvenation in the Downtown area.
The youngest of these five communities, the Village of University Park was founded in 1967 under the name “Park Forest South.” The name “University Park” was adopted in 1984 in order to distinguish its link to Governors State University and the Governor’s Gateway Industrial Park. Like its neighbor Park Forest, University Park was established as a planned community designed to promote a high quality of life. The Village of around 6,700 residents exudes a fine blend of country and suburban living with easy access to Chicago.
This location is among one of University Park’s many assets. Pine Lake, the historic Riegel Farm Complex, Hickok Aquatic Center, and the University Golf and Conference Center are listed as the Village’s finest recreational treasures, while the establishment of Governors State University provides ample opportunities for education and culture. Supplementing its outstanding learning environment is the modern Center for Performing Arts and the Nathan Manilow Outdoor Sculpture Park, which draw in visitors from all over the region and beyond.
University Park is on a path of continuing development. Plans are being finalized to construct a 900-home community and an expansive shopping complex that will surround the Village’s Metra station, Governors Highway and Cicero Avenue. Its Industrial Park stands as one of the largest in Illinois and offers growth potential exceeding 3,000 acres. Over the last two years, more than 5 million square feet of industrial space has been incorporated in University Park. The Village has also been a leader in advocating for the proposed Abraham Lincoln National Airport as well—a project University Park sees as a major economic development opportunity for itself and the entire south suburban region.