Welcome to the Carpentersville Memories Elgin Page. Our goal is to bring back some fun memories of growing up in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Please take your time and check out all of the Elgin images and files, they are sure to bring back many memories.
We bring back Memories you didn’t know you had
What was Elgin like way back in the olden days?
Elgin was a place where we all felt safe, any time of day or night. A place we called home, a place with friends, family and great people. Whether you lived there for a year or a life time, the memories of Elgin are forever in your mind. Check out all of the Elgin images and files we have been collecting.
The History of Elgin
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Black Hawk Indian War of 1832 led to the expulsion of the Native Americans who had settlements and burial mounds in the area, and set the stage for the founding of Elgin. Thousands of militiamen and soldiers of Gen. Winfield Scott’s army marched through the Fox River valley during the war, and accounts of the area’s fertile soils and flowing springs soon filtered east.
In New York, James T. Gifford and his brother Hezekiah Gifford heard tales of this area ripe for settlement, and travelled west. Looking for a site on the stagecoach route from Chicago to Galena, Illinois, they eventually settled on a spot where the Fox River could be bridged. In April 1835, they established the city, naming it after the Scottish tune “Elgin”.
Early Elgin achieved fame for the butter and dairy goods it sold to the city of Chicago. Gail Borden established a condensed milk factory here in 1866, and the local library was named in his honor. The dairy industry became less important with the arrival of the Elgin Watch Company. The watch factory employed three generations of Elginites from the late 19th to the mid 20th century, when it was the largest producer of fine watches in the United States (the factory ceased production in 1965 and was torn down in the summer of 1966) and the operator of the largest watchmaking complex in the world. Today, the clocks at Chicago’s Union Station still bear the Elgin name.
Elgin has a long tradition of education and invention. Elgin is home to the Elgin Academy, the oldest coeducational, non-sectarian college preparatory school west of the Allegheny Mountains. Elgin High School boasts five Navy admirals, a Nobel Prize winner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a Tony Award winner, two Academy Award–winning producers, Olympic athletes and a General Motors CEO among its alumni. Elgin resident John Murphy invented the motorized streetsweeper in 1914 and later formed the Elgin Sweeper Corporation. Pioneering African-American chemist Lloyd Hall was an Elgin native, as was the legendary marketer and car stereo pioneer Earl “Madman” Muntz and Max Adler, founder of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, America’s first planetarium.
Local historian E. C. Alft has written several books and an ongoing newspaper column about Elgin’s history.
The city is known for its historic architecture and landmarks from the Victorian era, including some fine examples of homes in the Queen Anne style. Many of the most remarkable homes once belonged to National Watch Company executives. Many interesting Sears Catalog Homes arrived in Elgin as kits from 1908 to 1940 and original cobblestone homes built by the earliest settlers still stand. They can be seen in Elgin’s historic districts, two of which are recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.
The Elgin Public Museum at Lords Park is the oldest building in Illinois built expressly as a museum that is still serving that purpose.
During the twentieth century, Elgin has continued to thrive modestly. For a time during the 1920s it was one of the centers for a great network of interurban trains, which linked together the towns of the Fox River Valley and their neighbors to the east. This remarkable system might have continued to grow and to serve the region well, but it was dismantled during the great expansion in automobile travel in the 1950s.
Today the town extends well beyond the original nucleus, with growth along Interstate 90 to the north. Most of its heavy industries have disappeared, but it enjoys a quiet prosperity as a center for commuters and, increasingly, for companies such as Motorola and Bank One. Redevelopment of the downtown area has included the Grand Victoria Casino.
Various Images From Elgin’s Past
Historic Images of Elgin from the Chicago Tribune
Click here to visit the Chicago Tribune page with more historic images of Elgin
Elgin Community College
Elgin High School
Elgin Watch Company
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