Brighton Park is bordered on the north by the former Illinois & Michigan Canal and the current Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, on the east by Western Avenue, on the south by 49th Street, and on the west by Central Park Ave.
The neighborhood is a mix of residential areas, commercial zones, industrial works and transportation (primarily railroad and trucking) facilities. It is relatively peaceful, according to Chicago Police Department statistics (2004 CPD Annual Report).
Brighton Park took its name from the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, which was famed for its cattle market. Brighton Park was incorporated as a village in 1851 and annexed into the city of Chicago in 1889 (some earlier maps show the north section of the neighborhood as part of Cicero, Illinois). It was formed originally near the intersection of the Blue Island Plank Road, now Western Avenue, and the old portage trail between the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River, a trail that eventually evolved into Archer Road, now Archer Avenue, which is now the main thoroughfare through Brighton Park. In 1855, Chicago mayor "Long" John Wentworth built the Brighton Park horse racetrack (whose name conveniently alluded to the more famous Brighton Racecourse in England) directly east of the village, in what is now the Chicago Park District's McKinley Park.
By 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire, Brighton Park was served by the Archer Avenue horsecar and the Alton Railroad. (Brighton Park was not affected by the fire). The railroad built a roundhouse in the neighborhood, and various factories were built. Later the streetcar was electrified and extended and interurban electric railway service was provided by the Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway until 1934. Most of the residential buildings now in Brighton Park were built in the early part of the 20th century, between 1905 and 1925, after more electric streetcar lines (on Western Ave, Kedzie Ave, 35th St and 47th St) had been extended into the neighborhood, providing cheap & quick transport to work.
By the turn of the century, Brighton Park was becoming a destination for many European immigrants, particularly those arriving from Italy, Poland and Lithuania. The neighborhood's Polish identity was evidenced along Archer Avenue, which became the neighborhood's main street for Polish owned businesses.
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