One of the most notable features of Clarendon Hills – something that defines it from the surrounding area – is the landscape architecture. Clarendon Hills is a village like few others because it doesn’t conform to the standard grid system of roads and land that is commonplace. Instead, the streets of Clarendon Hills are organic, even serpentine, and follow the contours of the surrounding terrain. In addition to this, the plots of land in the village many are all unique and very few share the same size or shape.
Frederick Law Olmsted is the landscape architect (the first man to use such a term) behind the appealing layout of Clarendon Hills. To this day there is much confusion surrounding Olmsted’s role in the design of Clarendon Hills. Some think he designed it personally, while others have found convincing evidence to suggest that it was two other designers, influenced by Olmsted’s work in Riverside, Illinois, that planned Clarendon Hills’ street layout. Although many people persist in believing Olmsted designed the roads himself, this has been sufficiently proven, through historical records, to not be the case. However, it was with heavy influence from Frederick Law Olmsted that the streets of Clarendon Hills were designed. Olmsted is also famous for designing Chicago’s Jackson Park, New York City’s Central Park, the grounds of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. His other notable suburban project, as mentioned previously, was Riverside, Illinois.
In stark contrast to the Olmsted-inspired eastern half of the village, the western half of the village complies to the standard grid system because Arthur T. McIntosh was unaware of the plans to make Clarendon Hills’ appealing village layout. Even though only half of the village is Olmstedian, the juxtaposition of the two designs makes the eastern half of the village all the more unique.
Read more Clarendon Hills History!