Sunday, July 6, 2008

Proviso Township c. 1910

In a bizarre domino effect, the towns, settlements and villages bordering Chicago scrambled to incorporate to prevent being annexed into the city. That was the over-riding driving force.
There wasn't time to waste. Between 1900 and 1910 more than 1000 communities were incorporated around the perimeter. Proviso Township's 36 sq. miles became no less than 20
separate and distinct incorporated communities with a few pockets of staunchly UNincorporated parcels. The motivations for the various incorporations were typically based on past unsettled disputes between neighbors, ethnic make-up, religious denominations and the demon of the day, alcohol rather than comprehensive city planning.

High Schools were a growing trend in education and the residents of Proviso Township got on the bandwagon in 1908. The first classes were held in various school buildings among the communities while a state of the art building was constructed. The building was "opened" for a class day in 1911 so that 55 diplomas could be conferred to the first official graduating class.

The area's history is not well documented or recorded. Most of the available information has been compiled by local historical societies whose focus seems to be on painting the past as some glorious procession or progression. It isn't until you look at a wider series of events in the broader region that you see the actions and reactions in all of its splendid pettiness.
The race was on. Exclusion and exclusivity.

"Anything they can do, we can do too. "
"Yeah, but ours is better, bigger and doesn't include YOU!"

The whole thing makes a lot more sense when you attribute typical motives than less applicable, more altruistic ones. The high school was geared to providing a ready work force to the factories and industries that came with the growth. Over the years Proviso High School developed a reputation as a good place to learn a skill. It was a trade school more than an academic institution. It produced good cogs for the wheels of industry.

Next up.... Changes

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