Yuba Street is a short east-west street off of Desplaines Avenue near Roosevelt. Its origins are bit of a mystery, but we do know the origins of most of Forest Park’s street names thanks to Diane Hansen Grah of the Historical Society of Forest Park.
Forest Park was once known as the Village of Harlem, which makes it easy to trace the origin of our town’s most eastern roadway. John Henry Quick, from Harlem, New York, was an early pioneer in the area and named his frontier settlement after his beloved hometown. He built a house at Bonnie Brae and Lake Street in what is now known as River Forest.
Quick even owned a hotel called Harlem House, which was one of the few buildings depicted on a local map in 1861. Travelers from the Chicago & North Western Railway (C&NW) would stay at the hotel, which even had a small restaurant. This railway gave birth to many of the north-south street names in town. Some of the stops along the C&NW route included Elgin, Marengo, Rockford, Dixon, Beloit and Belvidere.
Most of the east-west streets in town are continuations of Chicago streets. Randolph, Washington, Madison, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Fillmore, Taylor, Polk, Roosevelt, and 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th streets. Harvard, which runs as a through-way on the south end of town, continues through neighboring Oak Park but is known as Arthington in Chicago. This is one of the few east-west streets in town that doesn’t follow this pattern, and it may have roots along the C&NW too.
Local historian Dr. Frank Orland recorded that Mr. D. Wilcox was both a teacher and the principal of the first Harlem “schoolhouse,” which opened in 1878 at Randolph and Circle. The four-room schoolhouse had 100 students in attendance when it opened, and it is conceivable that Wilcox Street was named in honor of him.
John Burkhardt and the Troost family were early settlers here on our side of the C&NW tracks and had streets named after them. A man named Farley, who owned a large area of land named two streets after his children, Thomas and Hannah. Samuel Dunlop also owned much property here. John Lathrop also was a local property owner and good friends with the president of the Galena & Chicago Railroad, which merged with the C&NW in 1865.
Circle Avenue which curves into a circle on the north side, was once known as Bross Street and Desplaines was originally called Beloit Street. It makes perfect sense that Desplaines Avenue runs along the Des Plaines River. The river was named before Harlem by French traders who found the American sycamore or red maple trees growing along the river to resemble the European “plaine” tree.
Bergman Court, located next to Forest Park Liquor Store, is named after Bergman Dairy. Babe Satalic Lane off of Industrial Drive on the south end of town is named after business agent Walter Satalic of Ironworkers Union 1. Brown Avenue is named after Captain John Brown who owned many homes on the street.
Ferdinand Street is named after one of our early settlers, Ferdinand Haase, who was known for his entrepreneurial spirit, owned a great deal of land next to the Des Plaines River, from Madison to the north (present day Concordia Cemetery) and to what is now Waldheim Cemetery to the south. He gave river tours along the Des Plaines on the White Fawn and sold Des Plaines River ice to the businesses and homes in town.
Yet, no one seems to know where Yuba came from. A 1955 Forest Park Review article suggests that it may have been named after a family friend of the Haase family or after the town that this friend lived in. Perhaps Ferdinand had a friend from Yuba County, in California. “Yuba,” is likely a corruption of the Spanish word “uva” meaning grapes, which grew wild in Yuba County. I know a few Forest Parkers growing grapes in their yards and perhaps their next vintage will be named in honor of our little local mystery.