Stepping Back In Time

In Chicagoland’s varied stores, restaurants, and  neighborhoods you can experience life as if you were in another country.  And in some places, you can experience life as if you were in another time.

Take, for example, the downtown square in Lake Forest.  It’s bordered on one side by a Metra train station (691 North Western Avenue, Lake Forest), built in 1901 that still features a vintage barber shop, businessmen in fedoras and briefcases, and the smell of a Catholic elementary school.

The station was designed by the Lake Forest architecture firm of Frost & Granger for the Chicago and North Western Railway, which ferried well-to-do city dwellers into the suburbs for polo matches that were once held nearby.

Across the street is a toy store, a book shop, a couple of restaurants, and various boutiques that border a manicured lawn where tweens participate in such quaint activities as talking, throwing a football, and being outdoors.

If you can mentally block out the desperate housewives and their SUV’s, and focus instead on the larger scene, it is ilyllic.  On a warm spring day, it is a slice of living Americana preserved right in Chicago’s back yard.  The area was declared a National Historic District in 1976.

Above it all, there are two clock towers.  One with a clock.  And a better one with a sun dial.  Hopefully those kids playing below notice it and it inspires them to learn about how sun dials work, and to realize that much can still be achieved in life without batteries, if you know how.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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