River Forest Tour
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A Brief History of River Forest
Native American people were among the first to inhabit the area we now know as River Forest. Ojibwa, Menominee, and Potawatomi tribes inhabited the River Forest area until the 1830s. But after the Treaty of Chicago in 1833 the Potawatomi, the last tribe of Native American people to inhabit the area, were pushed west of the Mississippi River at the insistence of the white settlers allowed in by the federal government.
In 1831, George Bickerdike and Mark Noble constructed a steam-powered sawmill on the Aux Plaines (now Des Plaines) River. Five years later, Ashbel Steele, coroner and later sheriff of Cook County, arrived, becoming the first permanent resident of Noyesville, a predecessor of River Forest. By trade, Steele was a builder and erected some of the early buildings in the community such as the old Harlem School building in 1859, which still stands today at Lake Street and Park Avenue. (Source: https://oprfmuseum.org/brief-history-river-forest)