Community profile

The Village of River Forest is a non-home rule community with a Village President and Board of Trustees elected at large and a professional Village Administrator who runs the day to day operations of the Village. River Forest was incorporated as a municipality in 1880.


The Village of River Forest is a mature community located approximately 10 miles west of downtown Chicago.  The Village is home to 11,172 residents, an assortment of businesses and two universities: Concordia and Dominican. The Village is bounded on its west side by the Des Plaines River and large tracts of Cook County Forest Preserves. River Forest is bordered to the east by Oak Park, to the south by Forest Park, to the north by Elmwood Park, and to the west, across the Des Plaines River, by Melrose Park and Maywood. River Forest is centrally and conveniently located in the Chicago metropolitan area and it is well served by an efficient roadway network and mass transportation system.


River Forest is an affluent community of 11,172 with an average household income of $206,744. Nearly three-quarters of all adults age 25 or older have a college degree.

  • Population - 11,172
  • Median Age - 41.6
  • Per Capita Income - $73,339
  • Median Home Value - $568,900
  • Median Family Income - $158,929
  • Mean Family Income - $251,095
  • Median Household Income - $106,947
  • Mean Household Income - $206,744
  • Unemployment Rate (IDES) - 4.8%


The River Forest Public Library serves all residents and offers a wide variety of services and programming. 


The River Forest Park District maintains 10 parks which include:

  • Baseball Fields
  • Soccer Fields
  • Open Space
  • Tennis Courts (illuminated)
  • Paddle Tennis
  • Climbing Wall
  • Sled Hill
  • Walking Path

Sales Tax

Sales tax for general merchandise in River Forest is 10.00%. The sales tax is comprised of four separate taxing authorities as noted below:

Taxing Authority
Portion of Sales Tax
State of Illinois
Cook County
Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)
Village of River Forest


Public School Districts:

Private Schools:


  • 10 minutes west of downtown Chicago via I-290
  • A 20-minute ride to downtown Chicago on the CTA Green Line "L" 
  • Metra- Union Pacific West Line
  • Pace Bus Routes 305, 310, 317, 318, 320
  • Conveniently situated to O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport



The character of River Forest today is the result of its early settlers; the Steeles, Thatchers, Quicks, Murphys, Griffens, Wallers, Boughtons, and Brookes. The affluence of these early settlers resulted in grand homes, upscale schools and churches and attracted other wealthy residents to River Forest.

River Forest was incorporated as a Village on October 30, 1880. Prior to that, it was considered part of a larger community called Harlem, which included parts of Oak Park and Forest Park. Fearing the possibility of alcohol-related problems if Harlem incorporated, River Forest residents banded together to incorporate a smaller and initially "dry" community. Forest Park and Oak Park followed suit and were incorporated in 1884 and 1901, respectively.

The original homes in River Forest were constructed along the east-west rail line between Chicago Avenue and Madison Street, primarily due to the importance of rail transportation. With the introduction of the automobile, homes began to sprout up farther away from the train stations that existed in the Village. Initially, the northern section of River Forest was largely undeveloped. In the early 1900's, Concordia University, Rosary College and the Priory of St. Dominic and St. Thomas acquired land and established their institutions in River Forest. Today, the three occupy approximately 110 acres of land in River Forest.

Click here for a scanned version of book detailing early River Forest history.