Downers Grove is a village in Downers Grove, Lisle, and York Townships, DuPage County, Illinois, United States. The population was 47,833 at the 2010 census, with an official estimated population of 49,399 in 2012.
Forbes Magazine named Downers Grove #8 in America's Friendliest Towns. According to the 2010 American Community Survey Census, Downers Grove boasts one of the nation's most educated citizenry. CNN has also ranked the town #5 in its Best Places for a Healthy Retirement list, citing the village's expansive parks and number of doctors and hospitals. Liveability.com named it #2 in its list of best cities in America for kids.
Downers Grove was founded in 1832 by Pierce Downer, a religious evangelist from Wampsville, New York. Its other early settlers included the Blodgett, Curtiss, and Carpenter families. The original settlers were mostly migrants from the Northeastern United States and Northern Europe. The first schoolhouse was built in 1844.
During the American Civil War, 119 soldiers from Downers Grove served in the Union Army; at least one of these was interred in the cemetery of Richards's. There was an abolitionist presence in the village, and some of the older homes are thought to have been stops on the Underground Railroad.
The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was extended from Aurora to Chicago through Downers Grove in 1862, boosting its population. The town was incorporated in March 1873. Its somewhat unusual spelling ("Apostrophe-free since 1873") remains a minor historical mystery.
The construction of two major toll roads along the village's northern and western boundaries, I-355 in 1989 and what is now referred to as I-88 in 1958, facilitated its access to the rest of Chicago metropolitan area. Downers Grove has developed into a bustling Chicago suburb with many diverse businesses, including the headquarters for Rossi Furniture, Devry University, FTD, Arrow Gear, Magnetrol, Dover, Heartland Food Corporation, and Abercrombie & Kent.