It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan and is the home of Northwestern University. The boundaries of the city of Evanston are coterminous with those of the former Evanston Township, prior to the 1830s, the area now occupied by Evanston was mainly uninhabited, consisting largely of wetlands and swampy forest. However, Potawatomi Indians used trails along higher lying ridges that ran in a general direction through the area. French explorers referred to the area as Grosse Pointe after a point of land jutting into Lake Michigan about 13 miles north of the mouth of the Chicago River. The area remained sparsely settled, supporting some farming and lumber activity on some of the higher ground. The 1850 census shows a few hundred settlers in this township, in 1851, a group of Methodist business leaders founded Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute. They chose a bluffed and wooded site along the lake as Northwesterns home, purchasing several hundred acres of land from Dr. John Foster, a Chicago farm owner. In 1854, the founders of Northwestern submitted to the county judge their plans for a city to be named Evanston after John Evans, in 1857, the request was granted. The township of Evanston was split off from Ridgeville Township, at approximately the same time, the nine founders, including John Evans, Orrington Lunt, and Andrew Brown, hoped their university would attain high standards of intellectual excellence. Today these hopes have been fulfilled, as Northwestern consistently ranks with the best of the nations universities, Evanston was formally incorporated as a town on December 29,1863, but declined in 1869 to become a city despite the Illinois legislature passing a bill for that purpose. Evanston expanded after the Civil War with the annexation of the village of North Evanston, finally, in early 1892, following the annexation of the village of South Evanston, voters elected to organize as a city. The 1892 boundaries are largely those that exist today, during the 1960s, Northwestern University changed the citys shoreline by adding a 74-acre lakefill. In 1939, Evanston hosted the first NCAA basketball championship final at Northwestern Universitys Patten Gymnasium, in August 1954, Evanston hosted the second assembly of the World Council of Churches, still the only WCC assembly to have been held in the United States. President Dwight Eisenhower welcomed the delegates, and Dag Hammarskjöld, secretary-general of the United Nations, Evanston first received power in April 1893. Many people lined the streets on Emerson St. where the first appearance of lights were lined and turned on. Evanston is the birthplace of Tinkertoys, and Evanston, along with Ithaca, New York, Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Evanston was the home of the Clayton Mark and Company, which for many years supplied the most jobs. Evanston was a dry community from 1858 until 1972, when the City Council voted to allow restaurants, in 1984, the Council voted to allow retail liquor outlets within the city limits. According to the 2010 census, Evanston has an area of 7.802 square miles
View of downtown, at Sherman Avenue and Davis Street, looking south/south-east toward Chicago.
A part of downtown Evanston, as seen in October 2005
Evanston Public Library - main branch
Shops along Davis Street, looking west, August 2006. The Davis Street Metra stop is visible in the lower half of the photograph.