Deerfield is an affluent community in Cook and Lake counties in the U.S. state of Illinois, approximately 25 miles north of Chicago. The population was 18,225 at the 2010 census, a 175 person decline from the 2000 census.
Deerfield is home to the headquarters of Walgreens, Baxter Healthcare, Business Technology Partners, APAC Customer Services, Fortune Brands, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Consumers Digest and Così. Deerfield High School is one of the top high schools in the state, ranking #5 in 2012.
Commuters are provided daily transportation to Chicago via Deerfield's Metra Station. This train line runs directly into Chicago's downtown Union Station via the Metra Milwaukee District - North Line. Estimated travel time varies from 38 minutes to approximately 1 hour, depending on stops.
Originally populated by the Potawatomi Native Americans, the area was settled by Horace Lamb and Jacob B. Cadwell in 1835 and named Cadwell's Corner. A shopping center located on the site of Cadwell's farm at Waukegan Road and Lake Cook Road still bears that name. The area grew because of the navigable rivers in the area, notably the Des Plaines River and the Chicago River. By 1840, the town's name was changed to Leclair. Within a decade, settler John Millen proposed a further name change to Deerfield in honor of his hometown, Deerfield, Massachusetts and the large number of deer living in the area. At the time, the alternate name for the village on the ballot was Erin. Deerfield won by a vote of 17-13. The village's first school, Wilmot School, was founded in 1847. Originally a one-room schoolhouse, Wilmot is now an elementary school which serves 548 students. It is located on land donated by Lyman Wilmot. The village was incorporated in 1903 with a population in the low 400s.
In a 1917 design by Thomas E. Talmadge of the American Institute of Architects, Deerfield served as the center for a new proposed capital city of the United States. By that year, all of Deerfield's original farms had been converted either to residential areas or golf courses.
On June 27, 1962, ground was broken by Kitchens of Sara Lee (now Sara Lee Corporation) for construction of the world's largest bakery. The plant, located on the current site of Coromandel Condominiums on Kates Road, began production in 1964 using state-of-the-art materials handling and production equipment. It was billed as the world's first industrial plant with a fully automated production control system. President Ronald Reagan visited the plant in 1985. The plant closed in 1990 as Sara Lee consolidated production in Tarboro, North Carolina. By 1991, headquarters employees had moved to downtown Chicago. In 2007, Sara Lee severed its final tie to its former home town with the closure of the Sara Lee Bakery Outlet Store.
In 1982, Deerfield began an experiment with a community farm. Two hundred residents applied for plots on a community garden. The project had such a strong initial success that the village opened additional community farms on vacant land in the village.
On December 19, 2005, the village board passed a strict anti-smoking ordinance. The law bans smoking in all public places, including businesses, bars, restaurants, parks, parade routes, public assemblies, and within from any of the above.
In November 2007, BusinessWeek.com listed Deerfield third in a list of the 50 best places to raise children. The rankings were based on five factors, including school test scores, cost of living, recreational and cultural activities, number of schools and risk of crime. Deerfield ranked behind Groesbeck, Ohio, and Western Springs, Illinois.
But Not Next Door
In 1959, when Deerfield officials learned that a developer building a neighborhood of large new homes planned to make houses available to African Americans, they issued a stop-work order. An intense debate began about racial integration, property values, and the good faith of community officials and builders. For a brief time, Deerfield was spotlighted in the national news as "the Little Rock of the North." Supporters of integration were denounced and ostracized by angry residents. Eventually, the village passed a referendum to build parks on the property, thus putting an end to the housing development. Two model homes already partially completed were sold to village officials. The remaining land lay dormant for years before it was developed into what is now Mitchell Pool and Park and Jaycee Park. At the time, Deerfield's black population was 12 people out of a total population of 11,786. This episode in Deerfield's history is described in But Not Next Door by Harry and David Rosen, both residents of Deerfield.
Since the early 1980s, however, Deerfield has seen a large influx of Jews and, more recently, Asians and Greeks, giving the community a more diverse ethnic makeup.