Located thirteen miles southwest of the Chicago Loop, Brookfield, IL is a comfortable settlement populated by some 19,000 close-knit residents. It is as close to the city center as some of outlying Chicago’s neighborhoods yet enjoys the perks of suburban life (e.g. lower taxes) and one of the best zoos in the Midwest.
Following the construction of a train depot, a commercial pavilion and the village’s first houses in 1889, the small town’s population and prosperity grew with the encouragement of Samuel Eberly Gross, who urged locals to “Stop paying rent and make your home your savings bank.” Mr. Gross’ notable real estate investments in the area helped facilitate the gradual growth of Brookfield into what it is today. And what it is today is a friendly community dotted with an eclectic variety of architectural styles—from Victorian houses to Mid-Century ranches—inhabited by numerous multi-generational Brookfielders. In the words of resident Kit Ketchmark, “Why go somewhere that’s just getting established when we already have a community here?”
Ketchmark himself grew up in Brookfield when his parents, like many others at the time, moved from Chicago to the suburbs after World War II in search of a less congested living situation. The extremely low crime rate (largely a result of vigilant neighborhood watches) and general amicability of the locals explains—at least in part—the appeal of staying in a town like Brookfield. Case in point: at present, the largest source of contention is whether to allow residents to keep chicken coops in their backyards.
When it comes to balancing the budget, Brookfield is in fine financial shape as compared to a number of other Illinois towns. In fact, many of the village activities get funding from service clubs. Of course the main draw for tourists is the Brookfield Zoo, located on a 216-acre plot adjacent to the town itself. Community members are so closely tied to the zoo that veteran Brookfielders can recall from memory the dates of significant events that happened there—such as the time, in 1996, when a gorilla rescued a three-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit.
One of the nice things about Brookfield is its walkability. No need to drive to your destination, one can leave their car in the garage and explore everything on foot. According to residents, everywhere in Brookfield is within walking distance of the town’s three Metra stops on the Burlington Northern Sante Fe line. So a car isn’t even necessary when visiting the town. Just hop on public transportation and enjoy a stroll from the train station to wherever you want to go. And when you get hungry from all that strolling about, Brookfield has a great selection of eateries that includes ethnic restaurants and American comfort food favorites. The local taverns come alive on Fridays and Saturdays, inviting both regulars and tourists (often in town for the zoo) to sit down and have a libation.
Next time you’re looking for something to do with the family, head to Brookfield for a change of scenery and a visit to the zoo. It’s a good place to spend a day—or a lifetime.
Post by: Dream Town Chicago real estate