Creating Chicago's North Shore

Michael H. Ebner

They are the suburban jewels that crown one of the world's premier cities. Evanston, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Glencoe, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff: together, they comprise the North Shore of Chicago, a social registry of eight communities that serve as a genteel enclave of affluence, culture, and high society. Historian Michael H. Ebner explains the origins and evolution of the North Shore as a distinctive region. At the same time, he tells the paradoxical story of how these suburbs, with their common heritage, mutual values, and shared aspirations, still preserve their distinctly separate identities. Embedded in this history are important lessons about the uneasy development of the American metropolis.

View Details >>

Wilmette and the suburban whirl

Herbert Mulford

A series of historical essays on the village, originally printed in the Wilmette Life in the 1950s. This book is also available online through the Library's Local History Digital Collection.  

View Details >>

Looking Back: Essays on Wilmette History

David Clark Leach (Jr.)

From the evolution of street lighting to the railroad crossing controversy to the making of Wilmette Harbor, Dave Leach enthusiastically explored fascinating nooks and crannies of Wilmette history in his essays in the Village newsletter. This volume collects a generous helping of favorites, illustrated with photos from the Wilmette Historical Museum’s collection.

View Details >>

From No Man's Land to Plaza Del Lago

Robert Shea

This book by Robert Shea tells about the dispute over No Man's Land, Illinois, an unincorporated strip of land in between Wilmette and Kenilworth, Illinois. The title refers to Plaza del Lago shopping center, which had been created as a revitalization of the former 'Spanish Court' shopping center during the area's rejuvenation.

View Details >>


Kathy L. Hussey-Arntson

Wilmette is best known for its tree-lined, brick-paved streets, nice homes, and lovely lakefront. Yet a peek beneath this placid suburban surface reveals a surprisingly lively history, ranging from the early years of hardscrabble farms carved out of dense forest to decades of conflict with German-speaking tavern owners in the culturally distinctive village of Gross Point. "No Man's Land" along Sheridan Road once sported a dazzling movie palace and a Jazz Age nightclub, along with hot dog stands, beach clubs, and speakeasies that defied Wilmette's buttoned-down reputation. The huge engineering effort to reverse the flow of the Chicago River bestowed on the village a cozy harbor and a busy lakefront park, both soon dominated by the massively incongruous but serenely beautiful Baha'i Temple. Hometown to such diverse figures as Charlton Heston, Ann-Margret, Bill Murray, Pete Wentz, and Rahm Emanuel, Wilmette has long been a fine place to grow up, as well as a bustling, civic-minded community with more than its share of surprises.

View Details >>

Wilmette: a history

George D. Bushnell

History of the town of Wilmette, Illinois from the first settlement by the Ouilmette family, to the year of America's bicentennial in 1976. With many photos, maps, drawings, newspaper clippings.

View Details >>

Wilmette at 150

John Jacoby

Wilmette at 150 is a collection of illuminating stories that feature and celebrate the people, places, and events that have shaped the village and created its unique character over the last century and a half. These stories present the grandeur of the lakefront, the turmoil of No Man's Land, the devastation wrought by a Palm Sunday tornado, the beauty of a tree memorial built for blind Judge Kolman, the final moments of notorious gangster Baby Face Nelson, the inspirational visit by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to promote racial justice and unity, and much more.

John Jacoby, a long-time Wilmette resident and former Village President (1989-1997), weaves all these stories into a fabric of village history-a history that includes success and failure, joy and tragedy, principle and pragmatism, unity and division. Wilmette at 150 is a tapestry that both honors the past and welcomes the future with insight, energy, and confidence.

View Details >>