Potawatomi Native Americans originally settled the wooded area now known as Lincolnwood, but then vacated the land after the Indian Boundary Treaty of 1816.
Johann Tess, for whom the village was originally named, and his family came from Germany in 1856. Population slowly increased and the first commercial establishment, the Halfway House Saloon, was established in 1873.
The agrarian population grew after the establishment of a Chicago & North Western Railway station in nearby Skokie in 1891 and the completion of the North Shore Channel in 1909, which made the easily flooded prairie land manageable. More saloons and taverns soon appeared, specifically along Crawford and Lincoln Avenues. Because only organized municipalities could grant liquor licenses, 359 residents incorporated in 1911 and named the Village Tessville.
During Prohibition, Tessville became a haven for speakeasies and gambling facilities. Tessville was long reputed for drinking and gambling until the 1931 election of its longest-serving mayor, Henry A. Proesel, a grandson of George Proesel, one of the original American settlers. Proesel worked with the federal government to hire the community’s entire unemployed workforce to plant trees on the Village streets. Proesel finally changed Tessville’s image when he changed the name of the Village to Lincolnwood in 1936.
Lincolnwood was able to keep taxes attractively low by fostering the growth of light industry and by attracting such giants as Bell & Howell. The opening in 1951 of the Edens Expressway had the most profound impact on the growth in the Village’s history. It offered easy and fast access to and from Chicago, causing the community’s population to grow from 3,072 in 1950 to more than 12,000 in 1970.
Lincolnwood’s first female mayor Madeleine Grant, was involved in overseeing such major public works programs as the construction of a 1.5 million-gallon water tower and the renovation of the Village’s 13 parks. Peter Moy was the first Asian American to serve any municipality in Illinois as its President, making Lincolnwood a leader for minority representation.