Sometimes people ask me questions about certain aspects of Brookfield history. One such question came to me by e-mail from Mr. Robert Rada, who found “a map of Brookfield from the early 1970s” that listed a street on the south end of the village named Taylor Avenue. He did not remember such a street ever existing, since the time he was a child in 1959.
Well, I dipped into my “Maps” file, and found my first one showing Taylor Avenue in a 1933 “Street Guide of Brookfield, Illinois” produced by the Brookfield Welfare Association. Taylor Avenue was a two-block long, north-south street between Shields and Gerritsen avenues, just west of Vernon Avenue and east of Sunnyside Avenue. These were 4300 and 4400 blocks.
The next map I examined was from 1945, issued by the Civic Management Association, but this one did not have any such street shown. Then a 1953 map, by the City Manager Advocates, did show Taylor Avenue. The Illinois Bell telephone directory map for 1958 also had Taylor Avenue. So what was going on here?
I located my 1965 Sidwell Studio map. Good old reliable Sidwell, in business for decades. Hmmmm. Sidwell located Taylor Avenue as being between Sunnyside and Oak avenues, not Vernon. Thanks for nothing, Sidwell!
The map in back of the 1968 Diamond Jubilee book doesn’t show Taylor Avenue at all. But then the 1976 and 1982 National Suburban telephone directories contained maps showing Taylor Avenue in its usual spot, between Vernon and Sunnyside avenues.
Here’s a tip for future historians. Don’t rely on 100-percent accuracy when consulting maps in Illinois Bell directories, at least not in the 1970s and 1980s. In three successive directories, from 1977-79, Taylor Avenue was prominently displayed as being an extension of Sunnyside Avenue, which was then the eastern border of Jaycee/Ehlert Park. Finally somebody wised up and, by 1983 in Illinois Bell books, the extension was renamed again as Sunnyside Avenue.
Just a final note to prove the inaccuracy of the Bell directories. From 1977 to 1983, Brookfield’s village hall was not shown as being located in Kiwanis Park, west of Arden Avenue, but on the east side of Arden, where apartment buildings stand.
Later directories, both of Illinois Bell and National Suburban vintages from the 1980s until the present day, no longer show the existence of this wandering, sometimes disappearing and reappearing Taylor Avenue; our own little section of Brigadoon.
I decided that the best way to see if traces of it still existed was to go and look for it in person. I did find it, and so can you.
Go to 8920 Gerritsen Ave. and look north, towards Jaycee/Ehlert Park. Of course, from here you won’t be able to see anything but townhomes and apartment buildings.
Did Taylor ever have any houses on it? Not that I’ve ever heard. Was it ever paved? Maybe in alley gravel. And just who was Taylor Avenue named after? Nobody seems to know.
But take a walk along Sunnyside Avenue. On your right, you will see some regular homes, and then the Jaycee/Ehlert Park soccer field. Straight north, in the distance, are a few more houses, and then Shields Avenue.
To walk the invisible Taylor Avenue, position yourself at the south end of the soccer field, halfway between Sunnyside and Vernon Avenues, and look north along the soccer field. Not much to see, is there?
Is there no obvious sign here, today, that Taylor Avenue even once existed? Well, perhaps just one. Before you start walking, look on the ground for a green-painted sewer cover. Once it was a part of a street that never quite made it into concrete reality. Welcome to … the Taylor Zone.