About the Village

Palatine: A Brief History


Palatine’s roots reach back to the 1830s when settlers from New York and New England traveled west to stake their claim in the fertile green prairies they had heard so much about from soldiers who were returning from the 1832 Blackhawk War. Using Native American trails, they continued north and west of the settlement at Fort Dearborn named Chicago, from the Native American phrase for the area which meant "wild onion place."

These early pioneers made their homes in the lush groves of trees that became known as Deer Grove, Plum Grove, Englishman’s Grove, and Highland Grove.

George Ela, who built his log cabin in Deer Grove in 1835, is credited with being the first European to live in the area. Two well traveled Native American trails, Woodstock Trail and Lake Zurich Trail, survive in another form today; they are known as Algonquin Road and Rand Road!

The Illinois and Wisconsin Railroad made its way to the Deer Grove Trading Post in 1853. Although the railroad failed, another, which ultimately became the Chicago and Northwestern, followed soon after. It is the only left-handed railroad in the country, probably due to the fact that its first engines came from England.

A thriving settlement soon grew around the railroad station, guided by the vision of Joel Wood, who surveyed and laid out the Village of Palatine in 1855. The Village was incorporated on April 2, 1866 and chartered by the State in 1869. Street lights were installed in 1871, after the Village purchased 12 lamps for $3 each and hired a lamplighter for 50 cents a night.

Palatine residents take great pride in their long history and deep roots. The George Clayson House, built in 1873 at 224 East Palatine Road, has been meticulously renovated and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Clayson House Museum holds more than 1,000 treasures of the past from Palatine’s earliest days. Be sure to stop by for a visit to see, touch and understand the proud history that is Palatine’s heritage.


The history of Palatine would not be complete without some mention of the enormous population growth during the last few decades. From 1960 to 1970, the population grew from 11,500 to 25,900, but by 1973 reached 28,800. The most recent census estimate (2020) for the Village reports a population of 67,908.

Palatine: A Look at Today

Located just 30 miles from Chicago’s Loop and 14 miles from O’Hare International Airport, Palatine puts metropolitan cultural and business advantages within easy reach, while providing an away-from-it-all home town feeling for its residents.

A pleasant mix of residential, commercial, light industrial and office space, surrounded by parks and open space, provide Palatine with a solid tax base and a tranquil atmosphere.

Recreation and leisure activities abound in Palatine. Civic, religious and community groups of nearly every description welcome new and old residents alike. Dozens of homeowners associations foster a sense of old fashioned neighborliness. Award winning schools are a source of tremendous pride in Palatine.


The Village of Palatine offers diversified lifestyles with a family atmosphere. Located in northwestern Cook County, Palatine’s favorable position in the Chicago Metropolitan area is very attractive to suburban dwellers and businesses alike. 

Access to major highways, such as Interstate 90, Illinois Route 53, and U.S. Highways 12 and 14, allow convenient access to major economic activity and nearby rural environments. Multiple interstate motor freight carriers are located in Palatine. Also, the Union Pacific Railroad (Metra) provides commuter service from Harvard to the Chicago Loop and nearby Chicago Executive Airport offers extensive facilities for private and corporate aircraft.

Annexations have expanded the Village to its current roughly 14.25 square miles and a population of approximately 69,350. Substantial unincorporated and undeveloped areas have been annexed to the Village in previous years. Palatine’s neighbors are the Villages of Arlington Heights, Deer Park, Inverness, and Schaumburg and the City of Rolling Meadows.

Business & Growth

Palatine has developed into a self-sufficient community. Not only does the downtown business district continue to flourish in its small town atmosphere, but 30 total shopping areas throughout the community meet every shopping need.  The creation of a light manufacturing zoning classification has allowed light industry to enter the Village. The Village of Palatine is home to the world corporate headquarters of Weber-Stephens, manufacturer of barbecue grills.

The Village of Palatine is committed to a growth that augments the tax base and ensures a continued high level of services to its residents. Over the past few years the Village has experienced an unprecedented amount of building activity, including single-family, multi-family and commercial developments. The attractiveness of Palatine can be attributed to the high quality of life that the Village has to offer. Palatine has a Village government that meets the needs of the community.

Palatine: Village Governmental Structure

The Council-Manager form of government functions under a Mayor and Council of six members, elected to staggering four-year terms on a district basis. The appointed Village Manager is in charge of daily administration and implementation of policies set by the Village Council. The Manager, in turn, appoints department heads and staff.

Palatine’s residents are protected by highly trained Police and Fire Departments. The Village’s Fire Department operates out of five stations located throughout the Village, with each station housing modern emergency vehicles and related equipment.

Mayor & Village Council

The Village Council is comprised of 7 members: a Mayor is elected at large, while the Council Member are elected within 1 of 6 districts. The length of each term is 4 years. With overlapping election terms, only one half of the Village Council is elected every 2 years. This ensures some carryover in experience and background on the Council at all times. The Village Mayor is elected at-large and separately from the Trustees. The Village Mayor, by statute and ordinance, has additional several duties such as holding the position of Liquor Control Commissioner, and serving as official signatory for Village expenditures.

Village Clerk

The Village Clerk also is elected in the general election to a 4-year term. The Clerk serves as the recording secretary for the Village Council and as the local election officer for all municipal elections. The Clerk is responsible for the filing, safekeeping and storage of official Village documents and support records including, but not limited to, ordinances, resolutions, minutes, licenses, agreements and contracts. The Clerk is often assigned additional administrative functions.

Village Manager

The Village Manager is appointed by the Village Council.  The Village Manager is usually extended an employment agreement with the Village stating the terms and conditions of employment and dismissal. The Council reviews the Manager's performance annually, and any increased level of compensation is determined by the Council at that time.

Village Manager Duties

The primary powers and duties of the Village Manager, as stipulated in state law and outlined in the Palatine Village Code, are summarized below:

  • Appoints and removes all Village employees
  • Attends all meetings of the Village Council and may take part in discussions, but has no vote
  • Authorizes the specified purchase of equipment, material, supplies, and services, necessary for Village operations
  • Enforces all laws and ordinances within the Village
  • Exercises control over all Village departments and divisions
  • Performs other duties as prescribed by state statute, the Palatine Village Code, and any ordinance or resolution adopted by the Village Council
  • Prepares and submits to the Village Council budget estimates for the current fiscal year
  • Prescribes rules and regulations regarding the conduct of all Village employees
  • Recommends for adoption by the Village Council any action that may be deemed necessary or expedient for the welfare of the Village 

In Summary

All in all, the Village of Palatine is committed to providing the best to its citizens by improving upon an already superior built environment. The Village knows it cannot rest upon its past success. To adequately serve its citizens, Palatine constantly evaluates its future. The Village Government, through its various Departments, not only assists the citizens of today, but plans for the future as well.