Friday, June 20, 2008

Don't Know Much About History -- Burbank History, That Is

The wisdom teeth extractions -- I had all of mine pulled last week -- didn't go as smoothly as planned. Thank God for Vicodin! One thing I learned: It's damned near impossible to knock me out. The doctor gave me a sleeping pill to put me under. An hour and a half later, I was still reading the book I'd brought along. "Do you want us to top that off with a little gas?" he asked. "Sure!" I said (I'm never one to turn down legal drugs), and so I sat there for the next half hour with the mask over my mouth and nose, looking like a pilot on one of the Apollo missions. Nothing. They probably should have begun shooting at me with a tranquilizer gun or blowing poison darts at my neck, but they finally just gave up and pulled the teeth.

Enough about my teeth. Here are few fun facts about Burbank from The Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Did you know...

One of the earliest roads to run through the area was the diagonal State Road...By 1871, State Road attracted the attention of a Pittsburgh investor who laid out a subdivision along this route that apparently never materialized. Instead, German and Dutch truck farmers settled in the area.

1871 was the year of the Chicago fire, by the way.

Anyway, Burbank's history is apparently full of such false starts. A dude named A.B. Stickney -- name ring a bell? -- made plans for Burbank (before it was Burbank) to become a transfer station for the freight railroad, but the depression of 1893 nixed those plans.

In the 1920s, developers bought up a lot of the land with the hope of capitalizing on the subdivision boom, but "the ongoing drainage problems, poor roads, and inadequate water and sewer systems, as well as the Great Depression, dampened enthusiasm of many would-be buyers."

So, what changed Burbank's luck? The creation of the South Stickney Sanitary District in 1952, back when Burbank was known as South Stickney or Burbank Manor. Population tripled, "reaching an estimated 20,720 in 1960."

To avoid annexation by Chicago, Burbank became incorporated in 1970, taking the name from the already-existing Luther Burbank Elementary School. (Luther Burbank was a famous horticulturist, and, yes, he's responsible for the Russet Burbank potato that we all know and love, but...what's his connection to Chicago's southwest side again? Hmmm... Must investigate this futher.)

Oh yeah, one last tidbit: Burbank's population peaked in 1976 at 29,448.

Class dismissed.


tlee169 said...

In the 1950's there was a house made of several hog sheds attached to each other sold in the Sears Catalog located at 79th and
State Road, at the apex of the triangle.

tlee169 said...

Many factory workers living in Chicago bought lots in South Stickney during the 1930's-50's. There was a notorious dude named Manny Skar who bilked property owners by buying and recording options for a few hundred dollars on their lots, then building and selling a home. Many people would discover a finished and occupied house on their lot on a Sunday drive and just give up. People who went to the law did get paid but 90% just lost their land. Later Mr Skar did some hotel building shenanigans with the Outfit and got whacked.

YellowRose said...

Nice little history lesson.

Sorry about the wisdom teeth, I remember when I had mine sucked. It takes a lot to knock me out I always say bring on more drugs!! :)

Mike Bates said...

The Old Barn, located just off State Road, has been around forever. The buzz is the place will close soon. That would be a loss. Had dinner there last night - the prime rib might be worth the $26 or whatever - and the server said there were rumors about closing flying around, but the staff had been told they're not true. I hope so.

Bluto said...

I grew up on 82nd Place between Nashville & Narragansett, right across the street from Harry Schickel - he owned a lot of land in Burbank. He also keep most of the block on his side as a farm and I went to high school with horses STILL across the street from me. I used to clean out his stables as a kid....

YellowRose said...

Hey John, hope all is well, miss your postings!!

Anonymous said...

I always wondered what it would be like if Oak Lawn, Bridgeview, Justice, or Burbank was a Chicago neighborhood: more annoying kids saying "Don't mess with us, we're from the South Side!" or "I'm a South Side girl" like kids from Garfield Ridge a.k.a Midway, Mt. Greenwood, Scottsdale, and Beverly. I honestly like Burbank better than those said neighborhoods (in reality, they are suburbs - annexed by Chicago).

Yep, thank goodness that didn't happen.

I enjoyed your post. Keep it up.