Produced and edited by Candace Kuzmarski
Niles was first settled in 1827.
The village of Niles was incorporated on August 24, 1899. The village had a population of 500 people at that time.
Along with neighboring Skokie, Illinois, and several other suburbs, Niles is partly in Niles Township, whence it draws its name. It should not be confused with “Niles Center,” the original name of Skokie.
There is no clear indication of the origin of the name “Niles.” In 1929, the Chicago Tribune ran an article opining that the name was taken from the Niles Register, a newspaper published in the 1820s out of Washington, D.C. and distributed nationally; however, no proof of that has yet been discovered; accounts state only that the name was chosen at public meeting prior to township organization in 1850.
Another belief is that the name “Niles” was named after Niles Construction which did much of the building early during the city’s founding.
Niles was the first community in Illinois and one of the first in the United States to establish free ambulance service, in 1946.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 5.9 square miles (15.2 km²), all of it land.
Niles is adjacent to Chicago to the south, Skokie to the east, Morton Grove and Glenview to the north, and Park Ridge and unincorporated Cook County (and portions of Chicago) to the west.
The town is centered along Milwaukee Avenue which forms a main artery diagonally through the town on a northwest-southeast bearing.
The North Branch of the Chicago River flows through the eastern part of the town roughly in a south-north direction.
As of the census of 2000, there were 30,068 people, 12,002 households, and 7,945 families residing in the village. The population density was 5,117.9 people per square mile (1,974.4/km²). There were 12,256 housing units at an average density of 2,086.1/sq mi (804.8/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 83.22% White, 0.46% African American, 0.09% Native American, 12.68% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.67% from other races, and 1.87% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.03% of the population.
There were 12,002 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.0% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the village the population was spread out with 16.7% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 27.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $48,627, and the median income for a family was $58,215. Males had a median income of $40,131 versus $30,266 for females. The per capita income for the village was $23,543. About 3.2% of families and 5.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.2% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.
Located on Touhy Avenue, the Leaning Tower is a one–half scale of the real one.
A notable landmark and point of pride among Niles’ residents is the Leaning Tower of Niles, a smaller-scale replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This landmark is seen in the opening Chicago-area montage of the film Wayne’s World. It is located next to the local YMCA (which is appropriately called the “Leaning Tower YMCA”). Several concerts covering a variety of musical forms are held here throughout the summer.
Another notable landmark is the Tam O’Shanter Golf Course (today called “The Tam”), which is currently under the ownership of the Niles Park District. From 1941-1957, the course was host to the All American Open on the PGA Tour. In 1964 and 1965, the course hosted the Western Open.
St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, the largest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in terms of burials, is the resting place of German immigrant Fredrak Fraske (1872–1973), who was the last surviving veteran of the “Indian Wars”. St. Adalbert’s is also the location of the Halas Family mausoleum, and is the final resting place of George Halas, former head coach of the Chicago Bears.
Maryhill Cemetery is, according to some sources, one of the supposed final resting places for convicted serial killer John Wayne Gacy, though there is considerable debate as to what happened to his remains after his execution.
The world headquarters of the Bradford Group, a major collectibles company, is located on Milwaukee Avenue.