Calumet Stewardship Initiative

City of Blue Island

Set on the southern edge of an ancient glacial ridge, Blue Island was settled in 1835, making it one of the oldest communities in Cook County. In 1834 the Chicago Democrat observed, “the ridge, when viewed from a distance, appears standing in an azure mist of vapor, hence the appellation, Blue Island.” The Blue Island House served travelers along the historic Vincennes Trail, which connected the settlement to Fort Dearborn in Chicago. Blue Island grew rapidly as the Calumet feeder canal opened in 1848, along with its first rail line - the Rock Island - in 1852. The Illinois Central arrived in 1892. These tracks, now operated by Metra, continue to serve Blue Island, as does the landmark 1868 depot built by the Rock Island Railroad.

Blue Island’s early history was dominated by railroading and industry. Germans were the first of many waves of immigrants to find a new home in Blue Island. Their influence was marked by the four breweries that operated here beginning in the 1850s. Clay left by the glacial lake bed made Blue Island the brick-making capital of the world. Since then, our businesses and manufacturers have exported a wide variety of products - from beer, brooms, and cigars, to dental equipment, produce, condiments, and railroad cars.

Famed 19th century historian Alfred Andreas described Blue Island as “among the prettiest little suburban towns in the west.”  Today, Blue Island’s charms continue to be discovered.  With its tree-lined streets and historic architecture, the City has an air of permanence that accompanies its casual, small town appeal.

 

Contact Information: Mary Paulsen at (708) 396-7035

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