History of Bloom Township
Bloom Township is located in southeastern Cook County. It is one of the original 25 civil townships in Cook County adopted on November 6, 1849.
The area known as Bloom Township was first inhabited by several native American tribes (Potawatomi, Sauk) in the 1830s who used the high ground that surrounded Lake Michigan to transport herd animals and trading goods on the Hubbard and Potawatomi trails from northern Indiana and Chicago to southern Indiana. Trading goods were brought south, while furs and agricultural products were transported north.
The Hubbard Trail became known in Illinois as State Route 1. The Sauk people from Michigan, forced to move south created a pathway westward, which became known as The Sauk Trail. This trail began in Detroit Michigan and wandered south and west through Indiana and continued west through Illinois to Rock Island.
Prior to the Civil War, Sauk Trail served as an important branch of the “Underground Railroad” where freedom seeking slaves and freed slaves were guided to northern cities.
First Land Purchase
In 1833, Adam Brown and his family settled on the Sauk Trail and became the first purchaser of land in the area, named New Strassburg (later changed to Sauk Village). In 1838, he filed a claim for 160 acres, giving him a total of 480 acres of land in what is now Bloom Township. He purchased the land for $600. A bronze marker was placed near Sauk Trail and Cottage Grove to honor the Adam Brown Family Farm. His farm became known as the “Crossroads of the Nations”.
Scottish-Irish immigrants settled in the area known as Thorn Grove at the intersection of Sauk and Hubbard Trails. The area was renamed Bloom in 1849 by German immigrants to honor a German patriot executed in Vienna in 1848.
Columbia Heights founded in 1891, was named in honor of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The town’s name was changed to Steger after John Steger built a piano factory in the Village. The Steger and Sons Piano Company became one of the most recognized musical instrument manufacturers in the early twentieth century.
By the 1890s, manufacturing was introduced to the area, drawing large populations of Italian and Polish immigrants, who settled into land currently known as Chicago Heights. Chicago Heights became a manufacturing hub for the area, utilizing the many railroad lines and cross-country highways for transportation.
Bloom High School opened in Chicago Heights 1901, serving the entire southeastern area known as Bloom. As the population increased, construction began on the existing Bloom Township High School. The new Art Deco style building at 10th Street and Chicago Road was completed during the Great Depression with funds put in place by President Franklin Roosevelt Work Progress Administration (WPA).
In 1902, the Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded $15,000 for the construction of a public library at 1627 Halsted Street in Chicago Heights.
The new school opened in 1934, complete with Art Deco architecture and limestone sculptures. Bloom was named to the National Register of Historic places in 1992 and during the State of Illinois 2018 Bi-Centennial. The American Institute of Architects selected Bloom High School as one of Illinois 200 Great Places.
Bloom Township Community College was founded in 1957. The first classes were held in the basement of First Christian Church. Initially the institution taught only liberal arts and occupational technology courses. The college later known as Prairie State College is situated on a 130 acre campus at Vollmer Road and Halsted Street. Prairie State College now offers degrees and certificates in more than 100 fields of study.
In 1959, The Village of Lynwood became the latest municipality to become part of Bloom Township completing all or portions of twelve communities. The offices were located at 1203 West End Avenue in Chicago Heights until the current Bloom Township Center was dedicated in 1981 at 425 S Halsted St, Chicago Heights. The population of Bloom Township is 90,146 as of the 2017 census.