Just three streets comprise the Elmhurst Highlands between North Avenue and 1st Street on the east side of Elmhurst. Otto H. Stange, the developer of Elmhurst Highlands named all three streets after members in his family. Berteau was named after his wife Bertha, Clinton and Geneva are named after his daughter and son.
Elmhurst was tripling in population during the 1920s and needed more housing. Otto Stange from a local family, developed the Elmhurst Highlands including new cement sidewalks, paved streets, sewer and water, as well as ornamental electric streetlights in the development. At the same time, many of the current social institutions were organized including the Elmhurst Park District and the Elmhurst Hospital, which was located on the western border of the Elmhurst Highlands.
This subdivision was also known for the Elmhurst Highlands Community Club, formed in 1932 by residents of the area. One of their first causes was the Halloween vandalism that plagued the neighborhood. Children would bang on windows with a wooden spool, rarely breaking the window but causing a delightful noise that required investigation by the homeowner.
Soaping windows was popular, as well as, throwing produce at front doors. The Elmhurst Highland Community Club solved the problem by organizing a huge Halloween parade that ended at Rube’s Field on First Street where children won prizes for the most original costumes. With entertainment and refreshments, by the time the festivities were over, there was no time for the children to get into trouble. About this time, Trick or Treat was established in other areas to combat the same problems the Elmhurst Highlands Community Club had already solved.
In 1938, Hills Brothers Coffee Company asked to build a plant in Elmhurst. A petition was filed on November 2, 1938 that rezoned 37 ½ acres for industrial purposes just north of the North Western tracks to where Schiller Street extended beyond Geneva Avenue. Mild opposition caused Mr. Hills to drop his request and an Elmhurst industrial park was postponed for three decades.
Finally, there is a rumor that The Spirit of St Louis, Charles Lindbergh’s plane, landed in this vacant land and stayed for several days. It is said that a friend of Lindbergh had borrowed the plane just after the famous flight across the Atlantic and brought it to Elmhurst. Children from nearby Eugene Field School all went to see it and agreed that it was indeed the famous plane. There is no public record of the event, however.
The east side of the subdivision borders East End Park. The most popular feature of the park is East End Pool, but it also has a playground, three baseball diamonds, a soccer field, lighted tennis and basketball courts and a concession stand that is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Students who live in Elmhurst Highlands attend Field Elementary, Sandburg Middle School and York Community High School. Click here for more information on those schools and links to school reports and more. With the demolition of the old Elmhurst Hospital building, a new subdivision is popping up right alongside Elmhurst Highlands, promising a regeneration of an already popular area of Elmhurst.
If you are interested in viewing homes in Elmhurst Highlands, use LW Reedy’s new MLS Mapping Search tool or contact a LW Reedy Agent for information on this, or any of Elmhurst’s wonderful neighborhoods.
We gratefully acknowledge all of the time and assistance Nancy Wilson at Elmhurst Historical Museum provided in our research. She continues to be an invaluable resource for this series.