It is said Park Ridge is on the highest ridge in Cook County. While this is not true, it does lie on a ridge. The soil is abundant with clay deposits, which made it a brick-making center for the developing city of Chicago. Park Ridge was originally called Pennyville to honor George Penny, the businessman who owned the local brickyard along with Robert Meacham. Later it was named Brickton. The Des Plaines River divides Park Ridge from neighboring Des Plaines, Illinois, which is west of Park Ridge. Chicago is both south and east of Park Ridge, and Niles is to its north.
Park Ridge is the hometown of former First Lady & current U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. When she visited Park Ridge on the occasion of her 50th birthday in 1997, the city renamed the southeast corner of the intersection of Elm and Wisner Streets, next to her girlhood home, "Rodham Corner."
The city is also home to the headquarters of the Big Ten Conference.
Park Ridge's most recognizable landmark is the Pickwick Theatre, an art deco building dating back to 1928. In addition to being a movie theater, it is also a venue for plays and concerts. In 1975, the theater was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Although smaller theaters have been added to the rear of the building, the main auditorium theater remains intact in its original large five-aisle state. The main auditorium can seat up to 1,250 people. In the 1980s, The Pickwick's facade was one of many used as the backdrop for the opening credits of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's "At the Movies." The uptown area is currently under development. There are new buildings, condominiums and stores located across from the Park Ridge Public Library.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.1 square miles (18.3 km²), of which, 7.0 square miles (18.2 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.57%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 37,775 people, 14,219 households, and 10,465 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,374.6 people per square mile (2,074.7/km²). There were 14,646 housing units at an average density of 2,083.8/sq mi (804.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.4% White, 0.2% African American, 0.06% Native American, 2.66% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.87% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.90% of the population.
There were 14,219 households out of which 32.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.4% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.13. The median cost of a house is $420,000.
The City's population consists of 24.5% persons under the age of 18, 5.5% aged 18 to 24, 24.5% aged 25 to 44, 25.8% aged 45 to 64, and 19.6% age 65 or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 90.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $73,154, and the median income for a family was $87,795. Males had a median income of $61,959 versus $39,794 for females. The per capita income for the city was $36,646. About 1.7% of families and 2.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.1% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.
Park Ridge is served by elementary and middle school District 64. Area middle schools include Emerson Middle School (Illinois), home of the Eagles, and Lincoln Middle School, home of the Lions. There are also five public K-5 elementary schools: Carpenter, Field, Franklin, Roosevelt, and Washington.There is also Jefferson pre-kindergarten school.
St. Paul of the Cross and Mary Seat of Wisdom are the two Catholic elementary schools. St. Andrews is a Lutheran elementary school.
The town is served by Maine Township High School District 207, which includes Maine South High School, and Maine East High School. Students who live in northern Park Ridge have the option of attending either Maine East or Maine South. Maine West High School is located to the west in Des Plaines.
District 207 shares student run radio and television stations operating with the call letters WMTH-FM (W Maine Township High). Actor Harrison Ford mostly known as playing the lead role on Indiana Jones, went to Maine East, and has been credited as being the radio station's first sports announcer. Since 2007, WMTH Radio can be heard live on any of the district high school homepages.
The town is a part of the Oakton Community College district
In Home Alone one of the cousins wears a Maine South letterman's jacket.
Part of The Breakfast club is filmed in Park Ridge.
Park Ridge has two middle school named Lincoln and Emerson.