On December 11, 2023, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior approved the expansion of the Village of Riverside’s National Historic Landmark (NHL) status.  

Riverside, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1869 as a rural retreat for those working in the Windy City, was first designated as an NHL in 1970. At the time, it was one of the first planned communities in the nation to receive the recognition. The boundaries of the 1970 designation were limited, though. Construction of a state route (1st Avenue) through the west side of Riverside had influenced the decision to omit the 46 acres west of that busy thoroughfare from the nomination.       

Thanks to careful study by the National Park Service and extensive opportunities for public engagement, the new NHL boundaries will encompass the entire village, including everything that was in the original plan. The Park Service found that while construction of 1st Avenue altered the original landscape, the characteristics necessary for including Riverside’s westernmost acreage in the designation remain intact: 

The western portion of the Village of Riverside conveys the park-like character, tree-shaded lots, curvilinear roadways (Ridgewood, Parkview, and Wabaunsee), housing density, relationship of houses to streets (setbacks), and the hierarchy of roads with spacious intersections characteristic of Olmsted and Vaux 1869 plan. 1st Avenue cuts through the undeveloped parkland west of the river; here it assumes the character of a parkway. All of which enables the western portion of the village to convey the park-like character for which Riverside is recognized as nationally significant.

Riverside trustee Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga, who is a liaison to the landscape advisory commission, said that the boundary extension and recognition of the entire village was a great honor. 

“The Landscape Advisory Commission is taking a special look at this new area in the coming years to ensure consistency with the other planting areas within the rest of the village,” Marsh-Ozga said. “The national landmark designation, which carries with it a higher level of scrutiny for any federal projects that come through as to the impacts and effects on the area, is going to be a great protection.”  

Riverside’s expanded designation is nationally significant, indicating that the village contributes to the understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of the United States. All of Riverside can now benefit from various preservation incentives, such as grants, tax credits and technical assistance. 

Learn more about Riverside on the Olmsted Trail!