125th Anniversary


Welcome as we celebrate Brookfield’s 125th anniversary! With the 125th anniversary of the city’s founding in 1893, the Village of Brookfield celebrates the ties that bind

  • ties to prior generations
  • ties to neighbors past and present
  • ties to the pioneers who established the community
  • ties to the many unsung heroes who forged the community’s reputation for hospitality, openness, and spirit of volunteering.

Join us as we move into the future by celebrating the vital past during this special anniversary year.


Here is our initial list of 2018 events that will commemorate Brookfield’s birthday:

  • Bike Brookfield: May 19 – Look for historical bike rides from the 1970s Schwinn’s to the turn of the century high-wheelers
  • Volunteer Fair: April 15 – Come to the fair to sign up for volunteers work in support of the 4th of July and other historical events
  • Independence Day: July 4 – The nation’s birthday will be an opportunity to celebrate Brookfield’s proud past, as civic organizations take part in the 4th of July parade
  • Founders Day: November 3 – This will be the ”main event” to celebrate the founding of Brookfield as an organized community (actual date: November 7)

Digitization Project to Preserve Brookfield’s History

The Brookfield Public Library is collaborating with the Brookfield Historical Society on a “digitization” project to record important local history.  The Brookfield Public Library would like to invite community members to submit photos, documents, oral histories, videos, and other digital memories that celebrate the Village of Brookfield’s sesquicentennial.

Contributions will be curated into collections and made available for our residents and people all over the world to enjoy.  To see the amazing collection of historical photos, please click on the Brookfield Public Library’s web page for the online collection.  To share more historical photos, please visit: brookfield.librariescreate.com/village125 or contact Frank Murray at fmurray@brookfieldlibrary.info.

This list of events will continually be refreshed here and in community announcements. For more history-related events go to: https://brookfieldil.gov/calendar/and http://www.brookfieldchamber.net/index.php.

  • 1893

    Pioneering residents vote to incorporate Grossdale, the forerunner to Brookfield.
  • 1894

    The first Village board meets.
  • 1905

    Grossdale’s name is re-branded as Brookfield.
  • 1918

    Riverside-Brookfield High School opens.
  • 1920

    The Plan Toll Road (now Ogden) is paved, connecting Brookfield to Chicago and giving auto drivers easy access.
  • 1934

    The Chicago Zoological Park (aka The Brookfield Zoo) opens. It quickly becomes a major attraction and international leader as a research and educational institution.
  • 1947

    With Village finances on the brink, residents respond by modernizing property tax collection. Brookfield pioneers the use of a full-time Village manager to monitor municipal business.
  • 1952

    Citing the remarkable recovery from near insolvency, the National Municipal League and Look Magazine honor Brookfield as an “All American City.”
  • 1958

    The Village’s Public Works Department installs a traffic circle at the treacherous intersection of what is now 8 Corners – Miss America is on hand for the dedication.
  • 1976

    Name a Bicentennial Community, Brookfield is awarded 1 of 111 replicas of The Liberty Bell, using the same mold as the original in Philadelphia.
  • 1981

    Brookfield earns the designation of Tree City USA. In the same year, the familiar Zoo-themed water tower (featuring porpoises) is erected.
  • 1991

    Irish Times opens for business and becomes the anchor for our downtown and another regional draw to Brookfield (along with the Zoo).
  • 2010

    Galloping Ghost opens and quickly becomes a major attraction for regional devotees of arcade games. It is estimated to be the largest arcade in the U.S.!
  • 2014

    Brookfield celebrates 125 years of Grossdale Station, which is now on the National Register of History Places.
  • 2016

    We’re #1!
    Crain’s Chicago Business ranks Brookfield as the top Cook County community for home price appreciation, capping a recovery from the 2008 recession.
  • 2018

    Brookfield commemorates 125 years as an organized community, with 19,000 persons calling Brookfield home.

For more history go to: www.brookfieldil.gov and www.brookfieldchamber.net

The Brookfield Historical Society

The Brookfield Historical Society is the repository of our community’s history. Housed in the oldest building in Brookfield – Grossdale Station – this beautifully renovated building is one block from Village Hall along the Salt Creek. An interior renovation will take place this spring and summer. A massive addition to its collections is being added this spring, with visiting hours being targeted for July. For more history go to: https://www.facebook.com/BrookfieldHistoricalSociety/

The Zoo and Community History

The Chicago Zoological Society (the Brookfield Zoo) has been an integral part of the Village’s history. What started as an experiment in conservation at the start of the 20th century has grown into a leader among zoos worldwide. At the start of the 21st century, it has blossomed into the largest paid tourist attraction in Illinois, drawing 2 million visitors annually. For more history go to: www.czs.org

Founder’s Day

Photo Gallery

To share historical photos, please visit: brookfield.librariescreate.com/village125 or contact Frank Murray at fmurray@brookfieldlibrary.info.