Hometown Legends of Arts and Literature
With a legacy of internationally recognized artists, writers, poets, the cultural roots of Oak Park and River Forest run deep and strong.
The early emphasis on superior public education attracted families who valued a well-balanced education that included the arts. Many prominent writers and journalists located in the community and the local schools educated many others who would enrich American literature with their own work.
Music, fine arts, and literature were not only incorporated into local schools. Women’s clubs and societies prided themselves on building programs that featured arts and literature. As early as 1880, an orchestra was organized in Oak Park. In 1902, the Warrington Opera House was opened. In 1921, the Oak Park Art League was organized by some of the many noted fine artists who resided here. A symphony orchestra was organized in 1932, despite the uncertain economic times of the Great Depression.
In recent decades, traditional arts have flourished and local artists worked to create the Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street in south Oak Park.
In 1984, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park was organized to celebrate the legacy of that native son. In the last decade, The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest has put the spotlight on the legacy of Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who lived in four different homes in Oak Park.