Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lost Towns of Illinois - No-Man's Land, Illinois.

No-Man's Land, Illinois was never an official place name but has been used to refer to at least two areas that fit the broader meaning of No-Man's land.

Most commonly, the term was used to refer to a small unincorporated area north of Chicago on Sheridan Road, along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan.
No Man's Land - Wilmette, Illinois.
It was bordered by the exclusive North Shore suburbs of Wilmette, on the south and west, and by Kenilworth on the north. Undeveloped for nearly a century after the first settlement of the area, no neighboring municipality wanted to annex it, and it became a haven for shady activities.

In the 1920s, a developer envisioned and began construction of a planned club and beach hotel complex to be called "Vista Del Lago" (Spanish for "Lakeview"). The club was under construction on the east side of Sheridan Road, but the Great Depression prevented the completion of the hotel. In 1928, one of the earlier automobile-oriented shopping centers, Spanish Court, opened adjacent to the club. The club burned down in 1932.

The lack of development on the east side of the road, coupled with the club's location in a relatively lawless unincorporated area, led to a state legislator in the 1930s terming No Man's Land "a slot machine and keno sin center where college students were being debauched with beer, hard liquor, and firecrackers." In 1942, after decades of disputed ownership and legal wrangling, the area was annexed by the village of Wilmette. The area is now the home of the Plaza del Lago shopping center on the west side of Sheridan Road and a small number of anomalous high-rise residential buildings east of Sheridan Road.
Plaza Del Lago & high-rise Condo's on Sheridan Road in Wilmette, Illinois.
Prior to the redevelopment of the area in the 60s, such establishments as firework stores, hot dog stands, ice cream shops, car dealerships, and service stations had earned the area nicknames of 'Coney Island of the North Shore' and 'honkey-tonk town of the North Shore'.

The term "No-Man's Land" was used prior to the expansion of Chicago from the property on the south border of Calvary Cemetery in Evanston. It refers to what is now the far north lakefront of the Rogers Park community of Chicago. It is also identified by the United States Geological Survey as being a variant name of the Howard District.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


  1. And when the high rises were built, they were reserved for WASPs. No Jews were allowed. (Some wealthy friends of my grandparents, the Doppelts, (who invented the “Dop-kit” were turned down.

    1. Dopp kit is a term particularly in use in the US for toiletry bags. The name derives from the early 20th century leather craftsman Charles Doppelt, whose company designed the case in 1926.


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