History of New Chicago

New Chicago was established in 1908 approximately. Even though the town was incorporated in 1908, located in Lake County between Hobart and Lake Station, most of the development of land came right after the Korean War.   New Chicago is predominately a residential community located within an urban region characterized by industrial, manufacturing and transportation activity. The outlook for growth brightened when United States Steel Corporation began platting and building the City of Gary.  Homes were built with hardwood floors and basements that sold for $12,900.00.   Tranquil residential life and activities occur within a larger region.  It was thought that a suburb outside of the City of Gary might become the home of some of the officers, executives, department heads, and professional staff of the steel and other industries.  New Chicago Town Hall was once a school built in the 1800’s and was a one room school. It now serves as base for many of the town’s municipalities.  New Chicago boasts its own police station, a volunteer fire department, water department, three small Parks, one gas station, Pizza Hut, Mexican Restaurant and many other businesses.  Up until 1977 there was one police officer in town and the dispatcher answered the phones from their homes day and night. New Chicago is a short fifteen minutes drive from Lake Michigan.  New Chicago boasts it’s friendly neighbors, welcoming houses of worship and plenty of park recreation projects is what makes New Chicago such a great place to work, play and live.

New Chicago has Interstate 80/94 to the North, Route 6 (Ridge Road) to the South, Interstate 65 to the West, and Indiana Route 51 to the East.  We are a community one square mile and a small blue collar community where everyone knows your name.  According to a former barber in town there were 30 drug store licenses in New Chicago at one time.  During the Prohibition, if you had a drug store license, you could set a bottle of aspirin on the shelf, call yourself a drugstore, and sell wine and beer.  It was quite a bootleg place in those days.

New Chicago lies on the fore slope of what was once the site of Lake Chicago.  As the glacier retreated, levee lakebed areas, sand bars and old beach ridges were left.  This sandy region is known as the Calumet Lacustrine Plain, and is marked by existing U.S. Highway 6 (Ridge Road), which forms a southern boundary of New Chicago.  Much of the original natural features in Lake County have been lost to urban development.  The original vegetation of the County consisted of deciduous hardwood trees, prairie grasses, water tolerant grasses, sedges and a few water tolerant trees.  Most of the remaining wooded features and wetlands are located along the major rivers and streams.  In this regard New Chicago is fortunate, by having Deep River traverse the town.

The Little Calumet River passes to the northern portion of New Chicago.  Deep River runs through the central portion of New Chicago and is of local significance.  This stretch of the river remains quite natural with major topographic changes; good stands of remaining woodland and some significant wetland areas.  It must be viewed as having significant potential for walking trails and park purposes.

In 1836, Henry Fredrickson and John Chapman purchased land from the government, on which Indiana had been living, on the Calumet River.   Platted by these men in that year on what came to be called Liverpool. Stores and hotels were built to serve travelers on the Michigan City – Joliet stage line.  George Earle, an architect/builder and early resident of Liverpool, was instrumental in having Liverpool named as the county seat.  However, in 1840 a new committee appointed by the legislators moved the county seat to Crown Point, and the old courthouse was sold and floated down the Calumet River to be used as a tavern in Blue Island, Illinois. After the loss of the county seat, Liverpool stopped its growth.

In 1851, the Michigan Central Railroad was complete through the northern part of Lake County.  The railroad closely followed the old Indian trail, and a depot was erected.  Growth rapidly followed, as New Chicago became the center for Lake County with the building of the Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad to Joliet. 

The building of other railroads and other stations slowed growth in New Chicago.  The outlook for growth brightened in 1906 when United States Steel Corporation began platting and building the City of Gary.  Property owners saw the growth of Gary and thought of a suburb outside of the cit a community that might become the home of some of the officers, executives, department heads, and professional staff of the steel and other industries.