Located 32 miles northwest of the Chicago Loop, Barrington covers parts of both Cook and Lake counties. While the oak groves and prairie land between Chicago and the Fox River in the 1830’s appeared attractive and fertile, fear of Native American attacks during the 1832 Black Hawk War, and the lack of milling facilities, kept Eastern farmers from entering the area. After the war, mills were erected along the Fox River at Dundee and Algonquin and land-hungry Easterners poured in.
William Butler Ogden became interested in connecting the northwest area with Chicago and its growing port operations. He took over the Chicago, Saint Paul and Fond du Lac Railroad (later the Chicago & Northwestern) in 1854 and rolled out its tracks to the northwest corner of Cook County – building the Deer Grove station. However, civil engineer Robert Campbell purchased a farm two miles northwest of Deer Grove and laid a plat for a community there in 1854. He then requested and received a new station building at the site of his new community (replacing Deer Grove station) and named his new community Barrington, after Barrington, Massachusetts, original home of a number of the area’s farmers.
Barrington was incorporated in February, 1865. The village prospered, as many of the grain merchants whose homes were destroyed in the fire of 1871 decided to build homes in Barrington. The village continued to serve mainly agriculturally based interests into the early 20th century, and dairy farming was a major activity. Large land ownership protected Barrington from densely packed residential development well into the 1950’s and 1960’s. Construction of the Northwest Tollway 5 miles south in the early 1960’s did drive development higher on its south side. Barrington remains proud of its reputation as an estate community, and population reached just 10,168 in 2000. The Barrington History Museum provides a tour of historic Barrington, a working blacksmith shop and special exhibits to illustrate the history above.
Today, Barrington offers residents leisure time opportunities through its Park District, with programs, trips, camps, fitness activities and more. There are several scenic miles of paths for biking and walking in the forest preserves that surround Barrington, and more information is available on their web site as well as a complete map of routes. For informational and family resources, the Barrington Area Library offers book club discussions, kids crafts, video game tournaments, “second Friday” musical performances, computer classes and many other activities for writers, readers and do-it-yourselfers.
There are many family-friendly events held throughout the year – updated listings are provided on the Village web site.
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