Born in 1783, Washington Irving is best remembered as the author of “Rip Van Winkle” and the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Named after George Washington, whom he met at the age of 6, he would later pen a biography of the nation’s revolutionary war hero and first president. Towards the end of his life, Irving served as America’s ambassador to Spain in the 1840s.
As Washington Irving’s life was winding down in the 1840s, Major Noble established a 160-acre farm northwest of Chicago. This farm and adjacent land was later purchased by four New York developers, who eventually named the then-suburban settlement Irving Park, in honor of Washington Irving. Irving Park Road, which in turn took its name from the now-neighborhood Irving Park, extends 9.8 miles across the width of Chicago from the Forest Preserve. Coincidentally befitting of its name, the road cuts through some great parks- including Portage Park, Horner Park, Graceland Cemetery, and Reed-Dunning Conservation Area (the site of a former insane asylum and poor house which will likely soon become Chicago’s next great park).
On Sunday, April 6, we will walk the entire length of Irving Park Road from west to east. We’ll travel leisurely and make some spontaneous stops, including a lunch break, on the way.