Scene 1: Olmsted, Vaux & Co. and the Riverside Improvement Co.

At the edge of the Des Plaines River, some nine miles from Chicago, we find a unique example of the country's most talented landscape architects, architects, and engineers working together to create a new kind of community, one in which nature would became an integral and essential part of everyday living for all its residents. The result was Riverside, where families would dwell together amid a setting of wooded groves and meadows, along a curving stream.

In 1868, a group of eastern businessmen led by Emery Childs were interested in developing a residential community in the countryside outside of Chicago. In their search they discovered a large parcel of land on the Des Plaines River owned predominately by David Gage. Taking Gage as a partner, they formed the Riverside Improvement Company for the purpose of developing the land.

Being aware of Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner, architect Calvert Vaux, and their extraordinary accomplishment in Central Park in New York City, Prospect Park in Brooklyn and their impending work for Chicago's South Parks, the RIC hired Olmsted, Vaux & Co. in 1868 to design the suburban community of Riverside.

Hand-drawn map of Riverside depicting the area in 1836.
Click on the map to see a larger version.
Fredrick Law Olmsted
Calvert Vaux

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Riverside Historical Commission 2000
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