In the mid-19th century, an expanding railroad system and a steam-powered gristmill began to draw farmers to the Des Plaines area. The gristmill was located on the Des Plaines River in what is now the community's downtown district. The original name of the town was ?Town of Rand? after Socrates Rand, one of the first settlers. When the Chicago and North Western purchased the railroad in 1859, the station was named ?Des Plaines.? In 1869, the community's name was changed to correspond with the name of the station. At this time the downtown business area of Des Plaines began to grow on either side of the tracks near the mill.
Des Plaines became a thriving community in the 1920s. Its population grew from approximately 9,000 to more than 26,000 after World War II. Des Plaines also features homes in neighborhoods such as The Villas that were built post World War II for veterans. The city's proximity to Chicago and O'Hare International Airport made Des Plaines a very desirable place to live and work.
Des Plaines offers many recreational activities as well as special seasonal events for the whole family to enjoy. The 53 parks in the area provide playgrounds, ice-skating rinks, baseball fields and other amenities. Year-round, there are more than 225 recreational programs and classes for all ages to enjoy. Warm summers bring events such as the ?Pooch Parade,? where pets and owners can participate in contests such as the best pet/owner look-alike contest. Local wine connoisseurs can enjoy samples of the latest vintages at the annual wine-tasting party. During the winter, holiday festivities range from tree lighting to chestnut roasting. Area children get to participate in decorating the holiday tree, which reflects the rich diversity of cultures and traditions in Des Plaines.
Cultural growth is encouraged in Des Plaines. The city boasts art and theater guilds, a community concert series, a public library system and a historical museum. This, along with the city's friendly character, is a true indication of the cultural diversity and growth in the community.