Island Within a City: A History of the Norridge-Harwood Heights Area by Thomas McGowen

As I started my new job at the Eisenhower Public Library last week, I found a copy of this local history book on my desk.  As the new Marketing Specialist for the library, I needed to become familiar with the library itself and with the two communities it serves, Norridge and Harwood Heights (the library’s services are also available to patrons who have a Chicago library card).  A good place to start was with the history of the area.  This book begins with what it terms “Indian Days: 1776-1835”.  It touches on some of the first settlers in the area, times of war, and the changing of the area from a farming community to becoming a suburb.  The sections I found most interesting were titled “The Birth and Growth of the Two Villages” and “Moving into Modern Times”.  Since I grew up not far from the area on the northwest side of Chicago, I was very familiar with this area, especially the Harlem-Irving Plaza (HIP) shopping mall.  My biggest disappointment was that the book was published in 1989 (by the Eisenhower Public Library District) and so doesn’t cover some of the bigger changes that I have witnessed in the area, including the building of the beautiful new library building four years ago that I now work in.  Overall the book was an interesting read on the local history of the area, but it is certainly due for an update with over twenty years of recent history not covered.

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