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Rogers Park? West Ridge? East Rogers Park? 'Hood Border Confusion Continues

By Linze Rice | August 27, 2015 7:44am

ROGERS PARK — The beef (or cabbage, depending on which side of Ridge you live) over Rogers Park's western boundary dates back to the late 1800s — and recent attempts to flesh out the area's dividing lines show how hotly contested they still are today.

Results from the interactive mapping tool that DNAinfo Chicago rolled out a few weeks ago, which allows users to draw where they believe their neighborhood boundaries lie, proves that the centuries-old confusion hasn't dwindled over the years.

While those who have tried the tool already have largely agreed that Howard Street and Devon Avenue are the neighborhood's northern and southern boundaries respectively, people disagreed when it came to establishing a western cut-off.

Clark, Ridge, Western, California and McCormick are the streets where most Far North Siders place their bets for the Rogers Park/West Ridge division. Though Ridge does have the most lines drawn in by neighbors signifying the end of "Rogers Park," lines across the other major North-South roadways were pretty evenly distributed.

So why all the confusion?

Let's start by settling the history of an East and West Rogers Park — two areas east of Ridge Avenue confined to what is present-day Rogers Park.

According to the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, before the Village of Rogers Park became annexed into the City of Chicago in 1893, it was incorporated as its own village.

In ancient times, glacial troughs carved out U-shaped valleys along the shoreline, leaving two major "dents" that later became Clark Street and Ridge Avenue.

Then, Clark Street acted as Ridge Avenue does now, as the dividing line between East and West Rogers Park.

However, after the entire village became part of the city as a whole, the boundary began to shift toward Ridge, according to the historical group's website.

"The image in the minds of various people moved the dividing line West from Clark Street to Ridge Boulevard and started calling the area to the west of Ridge Blvd. 'West Rogers Park,'" the website states. "And so it began … This confusion may never be resolved, but there’s comfort in the fact that these names were once correctly applied."

Moving on to the main question: West Ridge or West Rogers Park?

Land to the west of Ridge, which had been purchased by the neighborhood's namesake Philip McGregor Rogers, had remained largely undeveloped and was unincorporated until the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 sent people north looking for new homes.

In 1890, after many of the German farmers living west of Ridge could not agree with formal Rogers Park residents on how to spend tax money, where to put parks and where alcohol should be allowed to be served (known as the Cabbage War), the Village of West Ridge officially incorporated.

Ironically, the area known as West Ridge today, and often referred to as West Rogers Park, was never officially known as West Rogers Park in the past.

Officially, the area is bounded by Devon and Bryn Mawr avenues to the south, Kedzie and the North Shore Channel to the west, Howard Street to the north, and Ridge and Ravenswood avenues to the east.

In 1893, both Rogers Park and West Ridge were annexed into the City of Chicago.

Today, both neighborhoods remain among the most diverse in the city.

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