History of Burbank
Burbank is located 12 miles SW of the Loop. It is one of the younger
communities in Cook County. Incorporated in 1970, it is bordered by
Chicago on the east, Oak Lawn on the south, Bridgeview on the west, and
Bedford Park on the north.
The early history of Burbank features a series of false starts and
frustrated plans. The Burbank area contained scattered farms when, in
1850, it became the southeastern portion of Lyons Township. One of the
earliest roads to run through the area was the diagonal State Road that
connected Ridgeland/Narragansett Avenues to Cicero Avenue. 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. Railroad
executive A. B. Stickney planned a massive freight railroad transfer
center that included the northern part of Burbank, but the 1893
Depression curtailed his plans. In 1901, this area became the southern
end of the newly formed Stickney Township, an 18-square mile tract split
from the eastern side of Lyons Township.
The subdivision boom of the 1920s spread to this area as real estate
developers bought up farmland and plotted subdivisions. But the ongoing
drainage problems, poor roads, and inadequate water and sewer systems,
as well as the Great Depression, dampened the enthusiasm of many
would-be buyers. The creation of the South Stickney Sanitary District in
1952 changed the course of Burbank's history. By 1959, the area known as
South Stickney or Burbank Manor had a water and sewer system for the
first time, and the flooding problems diminished. Roads were improved
and streetlights installed. The area's population tripled during this
decade, reaching an estimated 20,720 in 1960. Burbank was the last part
of Stickney Township to incorporate.
In 1970, to avoid annexation by Chicago, residents formed the City of
Burbank. The name was taken from the local Luther Burbank Elementary
School, named after the famous horticulturist. Six years later, in 1976,
the city's population peaked at 29,448. By 1979, nearly all of the
City's land was subdivided. Burbank's population declined to 27,902 in
2000. More than half of the City's revenue comes from retail sales
taxes. Stores are concentrated along Harlem and Cicero Avenues, the
City's main north-south thoroughfares, with some retail businesses also
on 79th and 87th Streets. There is almost no manufacturing in Burbank.
The City covers approximately four square miles, only slightly larger
than it was in 1970. A mayor, treasurer, city clerk, and seven aldermen
run the government. Burbank's mostly white, middle-class residents drive
to their places of business; almost half work in Chicago. Although there
is no train service in Burbank, buses link residents to the Chicago
Author: Betsy Gurlacz
Hill, Robert Milton. A Little Known Story of the Land Called Clearing.
Our Township Government: Stickney's History from Indians to Skyscrapers.
Pioneers of Progress: The History of Stickney Township. 1969.
Information provided by Encyclopedia of Chicago History