Potawatomi Native Americans, followed by French traders, first inhabited the area around present-day Morton Grove. Farmers from England, Germany and Luxembourg started arriving in the 1830s. The community was named after banker Levi Parsons Morton.
Morton was a vice president of the United States and an ambassador to France, who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He became Governor of New York just eight days after the village was incorporated, Dec. 24, 1895, as the Village of Morton Grove.
The earliest inhabitants witnessed open prairies resembling vast seas of tall grasses and wildflowers on the flat land left by retreating glaciers. Most of these original prairies were later utilized for agriculture, and the rich soil attracted farmers.
The Chicago River provided water and power to operate that area’s first sawmill in the 1830s, giving the area the name Miller’s Mill, after the owner of the saw mill located on the river just south of Dempster Street. Local farmers traveled along Miller’s Mill Road (later Lincoln Avenue) to sell their produce in Chicago. They later travelled along the railroad, when it came through in the 1870s.
Greenhouses arrived in the 1890s and quickly grew into the world’s largest floral business. The floral business received world-wide recognition for taking first place for roses at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. For a time, there was more area under glass in Morton Grove than anywhere else in the country.
With the turn of the 19th into the 20th century, the village continued to grow and prosper as it welcomed home those who fought in World War I. As the Jazz Age roared on, one of the changes best illustrating the new era was the transformation of farmland into a small airfield that existed north of Dempster Street from 1919 to 1932. The Morton Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry was founded during this optimistic time period back in 1926.
The Great Depression caused the village to meet the challenges of an uncertain economy as another world conflict loomed. After World War II, a new era of growth and prosperity began as Morton Grove entered the “Baby Boom” era. People seeking a better life ventured into the suburbs out from Chicago and found Morton Grove, especially after the Edens Expressway opened. The population of Morton Grove grew from 2,010 in 1940 to 3,926 by 1950. The population soared to 20,533 in 1960, reaching a population of 23,270 by the 2010 Census.
From the earliest days, when Native Americans and French traders lived off the land and European farmers grew crops in the rich soil, people from many countries who were pursuing the American Dream, have called the village home. Morton Grove continues to be incredibly close, and amazingly open.