Incorporated on May 9, 1883 along the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad line, the Village of Grant Park has enjoyed a rich history and has overcome severe natural disasters.
Located in Yellowhead Township in the northeast corner of Kankakee County, the Village of Grant Park lies three miles south of the Will County line and six miles west of the Indiana border.
Originally platted as the Village of Grant in honor of Ulysses Simpson Grant, the 18th President of the United States, the Village was founded on November 13, 1870 by Clinton C. Campbell in an effort to accommodate a new railroad. The Village name was later changed to Grant Park to avoid confusion with a nearby community located along the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad.
Realizing the importance of having railroad access, Mr. Campbell built a temporary depot on the east side of the railroad track. His trade prospered and after a year he hired Bela T. Clark to survey the northern part of his property into subdivided lots. The subdivision was the beginning of the Village of Grant Park.
The first plat of the Village was bounded by Hambleton Street (now Esson Farm Road) to the north, Alma Street to the south, the railroad to the east, and Meadow Street south of Taylor Street and the alley west of Maple Street north of Taylor Street.
Almost immediately, families began to migrate to the new town and by 1872 the population had grown to approximately 150 residents.
The Village had grown to a population of approximately 300 by 1883. It was time for the Village's inhabitants to consider an organized central government to over see the town and on April 16, 1883 an application was made to the Kankakee County Court for the official incorporation of the Village of Grant Park.
The incorporation was approved and on May 9, 1883 the first elections were held for Village officials. Six trustees were elected and their first meeting was held nine days later. Afterwards the Village embarked on a series of public improvement projects, including the grading of sidewalks, the building of a municipal jail, and the tilling of Village streets.
Throughout its history, the Village of Grant Park has experienced and recovered from several disasters including:
June 10, 1884 - A sever fire swept through the Village leaving a path of devastation and destruction.
April 21, 1912 - A tornado destroyed the northern part of town, 17 homes were totally destroyed, 50 were damaged, 21 barns and out buildings were destroyed, and 25 people were injured.
April 7, 1948 - Another tornado struck the Village causing damage on the north side of the Village. Three people died and eight were injured while extensive damage was done to houses, farms, equipment, utilities, and livestock. The tornado was considered one of the worst in Kankakee County's history.
April 7, 1954 - A third tornado struck the Village, again damaging the northern part of the Village. One life was lost during this storm and two persons were injured. The damage from this tornado was estimated to be valued at several million dollars.
After the 1884 fire, besides rebuilding the damaged structures, street lamps were installed along the main thoroughfares, sidewalks and crosswalks were improved, and roads were properly graded and drained.