Chicago Heights

Chicago Heights

Chicago Heights, city (1990 pop. 33,072), Cook co., NE Ill., S of Chicago; settled in the 1830s, inc. as a city 1901. It is an industrial community where steel, transportation equipment, metal products, tiles, and chemicals are manufactured. Prairie State College is there.

Chicago Heights is a city in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 31,373 at the 2005 census.


The first European settler in the area was Absalom Wells in 1833. He built a log cabin where the Vincennes Trail crossed Thorn Creek, but then moved farther west to where Chicago Road is now. The first permanent settlers were Adam and Phoebe Brown who built an inn at the intersection of Sauk Trail and the Vincennes Trace. In 1835, a large group from Ireland arrived. At this time, the town was known as Thorn Grove. The first school was built in 1836. The Reformed Presbytherian Church of Thorn Grove was formed in December 1843. The Batchhelder and McCoy homes in Thorn Grove were stops on the Underground Railroad. The first railroad arrived in 1853. The village was renamed Bloom. It was then renamed again in 1892 to Chicago Heights and incorporated as a village. In 1897, the village had twenty factories. By 1901, Chicago Heights had a population of over 5,000 and became a city. Its population nearly tripled in the next ten years.

At the time of its incorporation as a city in 1900, the original residents of Chicago Heights were German settlers. In following years, the city became a haven for Italian, Polish, and Irish immigrants. Later, many Blacks and Hispanics called Chicago Heights home. The city’s economic and ethnic diversity is reflected in the variety of its residential neighborhoods. The city is renowned for its superb police and fire departments, outstanding medical facilities and fine institutions of higher learning.

History Books on Chicago Heights:

(Images of America) Chicago Heights- Dominic Candeloro & Barbara Paul

(Images of America) Chicago Heights Revistited- Dominic Candeloro & Barbara Paul

(Making of America) Chicago Heights: At the Crossroads of the Nation- Dominic Candeloro & Barbara Paul

Al Capone Was activily involved in mafia activity in Chicago Heights during Prohbition in the 1920s.

Charles Panici Corruption

Charles "Chuck" Panici (December 26, 1930 - ) is the former mayor of Chicago Heights, Illinois. He served from 1975 to 1991. He was also head of the Bloom Township Republican Party from 1978 to 1992. He was born in 1930 in the “Hungry Hill” section of Chicago Heights, a south suburb, which was the home to mainly Italian immigrants in a heavily Italian town. His parents operated "Three Star Restaurant", a popular hangout for many neighborhood residents.Panici began his political career in the early 1970s as President of the Chicago Heights Park District. In 1975, he put together a coalition ticket and easily defeated the incumbent mayor. His Concerned Citizens ticket won 3 of the 4 seats on the city council. In 1979, Panici won again, with his entire city council slate of John Gliottoni, Louise Marshall and Eugene Sadus winning re-election. They were joined by Nicholas C. "Nick" LoBue, and all five won easy victories in 1983 and 1987. His administration was responsible for bringing Lake Michigan water to Chicago Heights after residents had complained for years about poor water quality. Several municipal buildings were also built during his tenure, including a new City Hall, police station and library.

Beginning in 1978, Panici was the Bloom Township Republican Committeeman. With a patronage army that spanned all levels of city and township government, Panici built the party into the most powerful Republican organization in Illinois[1]. During Panici's time as Bloom's Republican leader, the township consistently turned out one of the highest Republican vote totals in the Chicago suburbs. This made the Bloom GOP one of the most powerful political organizations in Illinois. The party backed winning candidates in every city, park district, school district and township race during the 1980s. Because of the Republican vote totals in Bloom Township, Panici was also responsible for fostering the political careers of numerous local officials, state legislators and judges during that time. He was instrumental in the campaigns of Governor Jim Thompson. The party became so powerful that Bloom Township High School hosted President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and then-Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1988. Panici also forged alliances with Democrats, and was partly responsible for bringing former Cook County Democratic chairman Edward Vrdolyak to the county's Republican party. Panici also organized a crossover vote in 1992 to defeat former congressman Gus Savage in the Democratic primary. Panici co-founded Telecommunication Services (TCS) with two other Chicago Heights entrepreneurs, and the company grew rapidly during the 1980s and early 1990s, serving many of the area's hospitals and other businesses.In 1988, south suburban mob boss Albert Tocco of Chicago Heights was indicted for a wide range of crimes, including racketeering, murder, extortion, and arson. He was also implicated by his wife in the murder of Anthony Spilotro, which was depicted in the movie Casino. Although he was never charged with the Spilotro killing, he would be convicted on many other charges in 1990 and sentenced to 200 years in prison. During the trial, LoBue's name was mentioned along with another Panici ally, former South Chicago Heights mayor Donald Prisco. Testimony alleged that LoBue and Prisco were accepting bribe money from Tocco in exchange for their help in keeping the garbage-hauling license for both cities in the hands of Tocco's Chicago Heights Disposal. This led federal investigators to open a wide-ranging probe of public corruption in Chicago Heights. City Street Department superintendent Ernest Molyneaux pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges in 1990 and cooperated with the investigation, leading to the indictments of LoBue and Prisco later that year. The two were charged with multiple racketeering violations under the RICO Act. The investigation also led to the indictments of several other city officials on charges of bribery, tax evasion and other crimes. Under this cloud of controversy, Panici chose not to seek re-election as mayor in 1991. His hand-picked successor, Douglas Troiani, won an easy victory against Sadus, who had split with the party.

In March 1992, two weeks after the death of his wife, Panici was indicted along with Gliottoni and Marshall on federal charges of racketeering, extortion and bribery.[2] He was also charged separately with witness tampering for directing a witness to lie to investigators. The indictment charged that the group extorted more than $700,000 in kickbacks from businesses in return for city contracts. Panici stepped down from his post as township Republican committeeman after the indictment. LoBue and Prisco each pleaded guilty to lesser crimes and agreed to testify against the others. LoBue would tell a federal jury that nearly every major city contractor paid kickbacks to city council members. He claimed that Panici was responsible for orchestrating the schemes. LoBue testified that Panici decided how much bribe money would be required to secure each contract, and who would receive the payoffs. One of these schemes involved monthly payments from Tocco to LoBue and Panici. Prisco and lifelong Panici friend Ralph Galderio, a former city employee, also testified that Panici was involved in bribery and received significantly reduced sentences in return for their testimony. Panici was accused of personally taking nearly $260,000 in bribes during his 16 years as mayor. Panici, Gliottoni and Marshall were convicted in 1993 on all charges. Panici was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Gliottoni to five years, six months and Marshall to four years. Over the next several years, other Panici allies would also head to prison. Bloom Township Supervisor Robert Grossi was sentenced to four years in prison in 1996 for misusing township funds, and former Chicago Heights Deputy Police Chief Sam Mangialardi would get a 10-1/2 year sentence for his 1995 conviction on charges that he accepted $10,000 monthly payments to protect the city's top drug dealer. Panici was not involved in either case.Panici was released in 2001, and again lives in Chicago Heights. He has always maintained that LoBue, who admittedly had ties to organized crime, extorted city contractors without Panici's approval or knowledge. He remains active in local politics, advising several candidates successfully.


Chicago Heights is located at (41.512034, -87.640201).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.6 square miles (24.8 km²), of which, 9.6 square miles (24.8 km²) of it is land and 0.10% is water. The city lies on the high land of the Tinley Moraine, with the higher and older Valparaiso Moraine lying just to the south of the city.

The city's major crossroads are at Dixie Highway (Route 1) and Lincoln Highway (Route 30).


As of the census of 2005, there were 31,373 people. As of the census of 2000, there were 31,373 people, 10,703 households, and 7,823 families in the city. The population density was 3,424.4 people per square mile (1,322.3/km²). There were 11,444 housing units at an average density of 1,195.7/sq mi (461.7/km²). The racial makeup was 45.02% White, 37.90% African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 13.46% from other races, and 2.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.77% of the population.

There were 10,703 households out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 22.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. 22.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.53.

The population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,958, and the median income for a family was $42,681. Males had a median income of $34,207 versus $26,276 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,963. About 13.7% of families and 17.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.


Chicago Heights is in Illinois' 2nd congressional district.


St. James Hospital is located in Chicago Heights at the intersection of Chicago Road and Lincoln Highway. There is a Well Group Clinic (part of St. James) located on Dixie Highway. Well Group was previously known as South Suburban Medical Center There is also two Aunt Martha's clinic's in Chicago Heights


Chicago Heights School District 170 operates twelve schools, with a student population of 3,600. Highland is the district’s pre-school for children aged three and four; Garfield, Gavin, Grant, Greenbriar, Jefferson, Kennedy, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Washington-McKinley, and Wilson are neighborhood schools that serve students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

In 1901 the Board of Education decreed that the school day would run from 9:00 a.m. – 12 noon, and from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. with a 15 minute recess each session; On July 30, 1903, the first telephone in School District 170 was placed in the office of the Superintendent of Schools at a cost of $18 per year; In May, 1907, School District 170 students collected money for victims of the San Francisco earthquake; On October 1, 1908, telephones were ordered for Garfield and Franklin Schools, the first schools to have access to “this marvel of communication;” In 1912 the Board of Education decreed that non-resident students “shall pay tuition in advance, at the rate of $2 per month;’ In 1912 the Board of Education required all School District 170 teachers to live in the district; In December, 1912, the Board of Education voted to authorize a reward of $10 for “evidence that will convict any parties who willfully deface or destroy school property;” In 1913, School District 170 served 2,238 students; In January, 1917, the Board of Education authorized the installation of electric gongs in three schools; In January, 1917, the Board of Education endorsed a nationwide “Plan for Preparedness” setting aside specific times for girls and boys to drill under the supervision of a member of the National Guard; From October 22 to November 14, 1917, District 170 schools were closed because of an influenza outbreak; In 1919, the average enrollment of students per classroom was 44; In 1953, the average enrollment of students per classroom was 30; In 2002, the average enrollment of students per classroom was 20; In 1953, School District 170 served 2,833 students; In 2004, School District 170 served 3,550 students.

Parts of Chicago Heights are also part of Flossmoor School District 161 which includes Serena Hills Elementary School in Chicago Heights. After Serena, students attend Parker Jr. High School also a part of Flossmoor School District 161. Only some students who went to Parker Jr. High School move on to Homewood-Flossmoor High School, the rest attend Bloom.Marian Catholic High School is a private high school.

Chicago Heights is also home to Bloom High School, were all students of 170 attend after 8th grade.

Prarie State is a community college located in Chicago Heights.

There are also many elementary schools that operate at church locations.

Chicago Heights Public Library- On May 20, 1901 many Chicago Heights residents signed a petition asking for the mayor and aldermen to slect a board of directors that were responsible for founding and running a free public library in Chicago Heights. On June 28, 1901, the first library board members were sworn in including Sam W. Lea, F.W. Schact, W.E. Canady, James Bowie, David Wallace, Joseph Caldwell, C.W. Salisbury, A.J. Sorensen, and A.W. McEldowney. The library was opened in a small room in the new city building on February 20, 1902. That month, the library board wrote to industrialist Andrew Carnegie seeking funds to build a library building in Chicago Heights. In July, the board was notified that Andrew Carnegie had proposed $15,000 toward the cost of a library building as long as the city could provide a free site for the building and if the council could promise $1,500 a year to keep the library running. The Carnegie Library in Chicago Heights was designed by Richard E. Schimdt. The library was located at 1627 Halsted Street and opened on September 11, 1903 with a staff of two and 1,643 volumes. A bigger library was eventually needed and on August 5, 1972, the present building at 15th street and Chicago Road was opened. The Chicago Heights Free Public Library was a million-dollar building that opened with 60,000 books, records, and other materials.


Notable sports figures from Chicago Heights include:



"Crossroads of a Nation"

"Da Heights"


4. Kenneth J. Schoon, Calumet Beginnings, 2003, p. 115-117

External links

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