This article by WBEZ’s Curious City features Blue Island, a Calumet-area inner suburb on Chicago’s far southern border that many years ago resisted annexation by a then rapidly expanding Chicago. Located at a juncture of several railroads, including the Rock Island Line commuter train that connects Chicago and Joliet, Blue Island is a vibrant, diverse, and close-knit community that exemplifies the potential of sustainable suburban development.
If Blue Island, a Southwestern suburb of just four square miles, once beat back Chicago’s attempt to annex it, we shouldn’t be surprised that they trounced other suburbs in a Curious City face-off.
Recall that curious citizen Jim Padden asked Curious City how Chicago grew over time by annexing its neighbors. (The answer? It’s in an animated map).
But then, we asked you: Which Chicago suburb’s story of resisting annexation do you want to hear more about?
Blue Island prevailed against Oak Park, which is on the city’s western border, and Evanston to the north. I want to thank the thousands of you who voted.
Where’s Blue Island?
If you’re not familiar with the place, Blue Island is a diverse, proudly working class suburb of about 24,000 people. It’s about 16 miles southwest of Chicago’s loop, as the crow flies.
To get to the heart of why this suburb said ‘No thanks’ when Chicago came knocking, we need to go back in time.