The northern suburbs have a reputation as a refuge from crime, and that's often true. But in 1934, the body of famed outlaw "Baby Face" Nelson was found in what is now Skokie. Here are some other facts that may be surprising about our northern neighbors:
1 The Glen View Club is not in Glenview — it's in Golf. The Evanston Golf Club is not in Evanston — it's in Skokie. The Skokie Country Club is not in Skokie — it's in Glencoe.
2 Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the conquerors of Mount Everest (elevation 29,035 feet), spent a year as a resident of Park Ridge (elevation about 640 feet). The New Zealander and his family moved into a Park Ridge home in 1963 while he was paid by Chicago-based Field Enterprises to travel around the country giving speeches.
3 Arlington Heights used to be called Dunton, Lincolnwood was formerly Tessville, Evanston was Ridgeville, Waukegan was Little Fort, Northbrook was Shermerville and Niles was Dutchman's Point.
4 The people of Niles Center grew tired of their town being confused with Niles, so in 1940 they formed a renaming commission and chose "Skokie," the Potawatomi word for "big swamp." The commission's vote tally was Skokie 15, Oakton 4, Woodridge 2, Ridgemoor 2 and Westridge 1. (The name Woodridge didn't go to waste: a west suburban town adopted it in 1959.)
5 When Ravinia first opened in Highland Park in 1904, it offered a theater, dining rooms, a dance floor — and a baseball field.
6 In 1850, the Germans who settled in the Wilmette area named their township New Trier after the German city of Trier. That city was settled by a Gaulish people called the Treveri and was also known as Treves — which is why New Trier High School athletes are called Trevians. Little did the Illinois settlers know that Trier would soon be known as the birthplace of communist icon Karl Marx.
8 One of Evanston's greatest citizens is little remembered today. Charles Gates Dawes was a banker and politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his World War I reparations plan and served as vice president under Calvin Coolidge. But Dawes and Coolidge didn't get along, especially after Coolidge's nominee for attorney general was rejected by the Senate because Dawes took a nap instead of casting the tie-breaking vote.
9 Actor Marlon Brando's memoir recalls rough times as a teen in Libertyville. Fired as a movie usher, he stuffed rotting broccoli and stinky Limburger into the intake pipe of the theater's air-conditioning system. He was held back in 10th grade at Libertyville High School because he was a "bad student, chronic truant and all-around incorrigible." His father sent him to a military school in Minnesota.
10 In Zion, it once was illegal to whistle on Sundays, gamble, put on plays, sell alcohol or tobacco, eat pork or oysters, swear, spit or wear tan-colored shoes.
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.
Sources: "Encyclopedia of Chicago"; " Arlington Heights, Illinois: Downtown Renaissance" by Janet Souter and Gerry Souter; "Evanston" by Mimi Peterson; " Wilmette: A History" by George D. Bushnell; "American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language"; "View From the Summit" by Sir Edmund Hillary; "Skokie: 1888-1988: A Centennial History" by Richard Whittingham; "Graveyards of Chicago" by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski; "Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me" by Marlon Brando with Robert Lindsey; Bulletin of the American Geographical Society; vah.com; ravinia.org; biography.com; "Unknown Chicago" blog by John R. Schmidt at chicagonow.com; and Tribune archives.