NFT Chicago Oak Park

Oak Park

General Information
Visit Oak Park: 888-625-7275; www.visitoakpark.com or @VisitOakPark

Overview
You can thank Oak Park for Prairie Style architecture, A Moveable Feast, McDonald's, and, yes, Tarzan. The creators of each called this charming suburb their home: Frank Lloyd Wright, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Kroc, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, respectively. Best known for its architectural gems and strong public schools, Oak Park is a happy hunting ground for home buyers seeking upscale, integrated living ten miles from the Loop. Less impressed than most with his picture-perfect hometown, Hemingway famously described Oak Park as "a village of wide lawns and narrow minds."

Architecture
Oak Park harbors the nation's largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, 25 in the village and another six in neighboring River Forest. The village's must-see sites are located in a compact area bordered by Division Street, Lake Street, Forest Avenue, and Ridgeland Avenue. Designs by Wright, William Drummond, George W. Maher, John Van Bergen, and E. E. Roberts are represented throughout.See more.

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You can ground yourself in Prairie Style architectural principles at the brilliant Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. Maintained by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, guided tours of the designer's personal space are offered daily 10 am–4 pm (951 Chicago Ave, 312-994-4000; flwright.org or @FLWTrust). Tickets can be purchased on the foundation's website or on-site (early arrival recommended) at a cost of $17 for adults, $15 for students, seniors and military, and free for children 3 and under (photography allowed with extra $5 pass). Excellent walking tours of the surrounding streets are also offered: $15 for adults, $12 students, seniors and military, and free for children 3 and under. Worth every penny.

Completed in 1908, Unity Temple (875 Lake St, 708-383-8873; www.utrf.org) was Wright's first commissioned public building; today it houses Oak Park's Unitarian-Universalist congregation. Guided tours and self-guided audio tours of Unity Temple are offered Monday through Saturday through the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust (flwright.org): $15 for adults, $12 students, seniors and military, and free for children 3 and under. Designed by George W. Maher, Historic Pleasant Home (217 S Home Ave, 708-383-2654; www.pleasanthome.org or @PleasantHomeOP) aptly illustrates the architectural evolution from Victorian design to early Prairie Style with tours held Thursday through Sunday at 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, and 2:30 pm ($10 adults, $8 for students and seniors, $5 children; free self-guided Walk In Wednesdays tours for Illinois residents Wed 10 am–12 pm).

The Oak Park Visitors Center (1010 Lake St, 708-848-1500) offers maps, books and souvenirs and tickets to the Hemingway's Birthplace Home and Museum, and Pleasant Home.

Culture & Events
Once a year in May, the public gets to snoop inside Wright-designed private residences during the popular Wright Plus Housewalk organized by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust (flwright.org).

Get your fill of he-man author Hemingway at the Hemingway Birthplace Home & Museum (www.ehfop.org or @EHFOP). The museum, housed in the Arts Center of Oak Park, is open Sunday through Friday 1 pm–5 pm, and Saturday 10 am–5 pm (200 N Oak Park Ave, 708-848-2222; $10 adults, $8 students and seniors). His birthplace, also included with the price of admission, is located just up the street at 339 N Oak Park Avenue. For a one-stop confab with both of Oak Park's favorite sons, stroll three blocks north and two west to the 600 block of N. Kenilworth Ave, where Wright's Balch House (611) stands across the street from the Prairie Style home (600) to which Hemingway's family moved when he was 5 years old.

Summer evenings, catch Shakespeare's works performed outdoors in Austin Gardens by the Oak Park Festival Theatre company (708-445-4440; oakparkfestival.com or @OakParkFestival). The lush Oak Park Conservatory, originally built in 1929 to provide a place for all of the exotic plants Oak Park residents collected on their travels abroad, is located at 615 Garfield Street (708-725-2400; www.pdop.org or fopcon.org; suggested $2 donation) and definitely worth a visit.




         



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