Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Townships





Lake View Town Building
The federal government surveyed the Chicago area, as part of the Northwest Territory, into townships ordinarily of 36 square miles (each square mile identified as a “section”). These survey townships eventually became political entities: as a result of a new state constitution, in 1850 counties in the metropolitan area organized townships, which became responsible for basic governmental functions such as roads and taxes. In the mid-nineteenth century, the townships ringing Chicago—Lake View, Jefferson, Cicero, Lake, and Hyde Park—incorporated in order to provide more services to their increasingly suburban constituents. However, incorporated townships proved too unwieldy and most were annexed into Chicago in 1889. Townships continue to provide basic services in many suburban areas.

Keating, Ann Durkin. Building Chicago: Suburban Developers and the Creation of a Divided Metropolis. 2002.