Oak Park was developed from land that was purchased by Joseph Kettlestrings, an Englishman who paid $215 for 173 acres of land back in 1837. That land is the area that is currently bordered by Chicago Avenue and Lake Street , and Harlem Avenues. About 10 years later, Kettlestrings subdivided the land, which was known as Oak Ridge for the numerous oak trees on the property, and began selling parcels. By the early 1870s, the Oak Ridge population was up to 500, and more people came streaming in after the Great Chicago Fire. Oak Ridge was renamed Oak Park, to correspond with the name of the local post office. When the railway station was established in 1872, it was also named Oak Park , thus securing the new name.

In the early 1900s the Village of Oak Park was officially established and Village officers were elected. The population had reached almost 10,000 by the time it was incorporated, though the land was only half developed, with mainly single-family homes and apartment buildings, as well as a few commercial locations. By the 1920s the population had surpassed 40,000, and in 2000 it was up to approximately 52,500.