The year was 1869. Ulysses S. Grant was sworn in as the 18th President of the United States. Mark Twain had just published "Innocents Abroad" and the tiny town of Highland Park, located in the southeast corner of Lake County, Illinois, was incorporated. Its population was listed at 500.
In 2000, the United States census calculated Highland Park's population to be 31,365 residents. Highland Park has grown to be a thriving community, diverse in its population and abundant in its educational, recreational and business opportunities.
Twenty-three miles north of the Chicago's Loop, the City of Highland Park is nestled along beautiful Lake Michigan for nearly five miles. Highland Park is bordered to the west by the City of Deerfield, with Glencoe to the south and Lake Bluff, Bannockburn, Highwood and Lake Forest to the north.
Abundant with ravines and wild flowers, the City has enhanced the community's backdrop with a carefully planned approach for reforestation, public flower gardens, and preservation of open space. Annually, since 1980, the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters have awarded Highland Park their highest national honor, Tree City USA. Highland Park's neighborhoods are filled with the perfect mix of housing, ranging from historic colonials, dating back to the mid-1800s, to award-winning contemporary homes and comfortable downtown condominiums. The City is accessible to one of Chicago's major expressways, I-94, with the Illinois Tollway just minutes away and O'Hare International Airport only 18 miles away.
At the southern end of the City on more than 36 acres of beautifully landscaped and wooded land lies Ravinia Festival, Highland Park's world-class summer venue of the performing arts. The festival has been attracting lovers of music and dance from throughout Chicagoland and the world since 1899. More than 500,000 attendees enjoy the festivals 87-night season, which runs from early May until late September (the only consecutive night summer offering in the country). Ravinia Festival features a 3,300 seat state-of-the-art pavilion, the 850 seat Martin Theatre, the Bennett-Gordon Recital Hall, five gourmet restaurants and a food court. Ravinia Festival offers something for everyone.
The City is governed by the council/manager form of government. The City Council consists of seven members with an elected mayor and six council members. Elections are held every four years for mayor and three of the six council terms expiring at the same time. A professional City Manager and his/her staff who are experienced in city management handle the day-to-day operations of the City.
The City has a number of commissions comprised of citizen volunteers who take an active role in City policy making.