Lake Forest formed in 1855 when members of the Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago sought out a bucolic location for a new university and town. They found lakeside bluffs, ravines, and forests at a site 27 miles north of the city along the new Chicago and North-Western Railroad. Landscape architect Almerin Hotchkiss planned the town in 1857 with curved streets, a park-like setting, and a commercial town center, a decade before Olmsted developed another influential planned suburb, Riverside.
Hotchkiss’ vision for a town center did not come to fruition until the early twentieth century, when residents Arthur T. Aldis and Howard Van Doren Shaw sought to replace Lake Forest’s hodgepodge business district with a coherently designed shopping area. Built between 1912 and 1916, the new Market Square, planned by architect Shaw, created a prototype of the modern shopping plaza. With an elegant Tudor design and accessible scale, Market Square readily accommodated pedestrian and automobile alike in a small campus that included a clock tower, fountain and central green space. As in the neighborhood shopping districts of Chicago, Shaw designed commercial-residential buildings that placed shops on the first level and apartments above. Further, in combining collaborative management of the plaza (owned privately by a land trust) with a consistent aesthetic, Aldis and Shaw mirrored the Plan’s ideas about harmonious development in centrally-located business districts.
Dart, Susan. Market Square. Illinois: Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society, 1984.
Ebner, Michael. Creating Chicago’s North Shore: A Suburban History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
“A General View of the New Market Square at Lake Forest, Illinois, Taken From the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Station…” Photograph. Chicago: The Western Architect, 1917. Library of Congress, Illus. in NA1 .W4 [General Collections]