Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

When Hoffman Estates was developed, it sprang up from corn and wheat fields.  Driving home from the city, back in 1965, it seemed as if you could smell the corn growing.  It was so different from the bright lights and busy traffic of the city.  It was very quiet and dark, something we had to get used to.

On summer nights we loved to look for the Big and Little Dippers. (See photo above.)  The Big Dipper seemed to hang over our house.  You’d see an occasional shooting star if you really took the time to stare up at the night sky for a good part of the night.  When the Perseids Meteor showers came in August, we’d have to lie on a blanket and try to count how many meteors we’d see.  It was wonderful.

Viewing the night sky was easier then since we had no street lights in Hoffman Estates.  We still don’t have them.  Not in the parts of town that F & S Construction, and later, Hoffman Homes built.

Up and down our streets you’d see everyone with a porch light on.  Many home owners installed gas lights at the end of their driveways.  Many porch lights were turned off when they went to bed.  It saved on the electric bill.

The highways were only two lane roads and the street lights were only at major intersections.  It was dark at night with light only where necessary.

Times have changed so much since then.  As years have gone by and the town has developed into a busy and active community, we find lights everywhere.  (Barrington Square below.)

The addition of businesses, restaurants, car dealerships, and new highways added lights and more lights.  Lights were needed for security and to light up every shopping area in town.  It is so bright that you may not see the stars anymore.  I miss that and the darkness that was a part of the early years of the village.  Only us old timers remember the star filled skies.  Even the fireflys were easier to see and catch.

As new neighbors moved from the city to the suburbs, they missed the lights of the city.  It’s very popular to have solar lights in the garden and across the front of the house.  I love the look of them and recall the gas lanterns that many had in their front yards.

Over the past 50 years we have grown from a sleepy suburb to a busy well lit Hoffman Estates.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian

The photo of the Big Dipper and Little Dipper at the top of the blog posting is used, courtesy of Jerry Lodriguss, a professional astrophotographer.

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