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
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
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 Transit Authority.
Author: Betsy Gurlacz
Hill, Robert Milton. A Little Known Story of the Land Called Clearing. 1983.
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