The Village was first settled in 1870 as a farming community known as South Harvey.
A newspaper publisher named William McClintock moved here from Ohio in 1890, bought 80 acres and built a depot so that the local milk train would stop here. This single move opened up transportation opportunities to Chicago and beyond, and was the first building block in making modern-day Hazel Crest a major transportation hub.
In 1900, the name was changed to Hazel Crest to reflect the large number of hazelnut bushes that grew in the south of town. The Village was incorporated in 1912.
Hazel Crest has been honored for its spirit of community volunteerism, with Governor’s Home Town Awards in 2002 and 2008.
The most recent award was earned after volunteers organized a community-wide Christmas gift drive and presented nearly 100 children-in-need with the special gifts they requested.
Every year, all-volunteer committees also organize the Village’s annual Hazelnut Festival, its Black History Month Celebration, and other Village events and special programs. Most recently, the all-volunteer Complete Census Count Committee worked to achieve a high Census count for the Village.
Hazel Crest has been named a Tree City USA for 25 consecutive years by The National Arbor Day Foundation. Tree City USA is a prestigious national award recognizing communities that have proven their commitment to an effective, ongoing community forestry program. Hazel Crest is the only community in the Chicago Southland that has received the award for a quarter of a century.
The Village has also been the recipient of a Tree City USA Growth Award for demonstrating progress in its community forestry program. This is the 14th year Hazel Crest has received the Growth Award, which recognizes Tree City USA communities that have shown environmental improvement and higher levels of tree care.
The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.
Hazel Crest’s Open Lands consist of three beautiful woodland areas. The North site runs along the east side of Kedzie Avenue, from Interstate-80 to 171st Street. The South site is between Kedzie and Holmes and 171st – 172nd streets. The East section is off of California Ave., between 1-80 and 170th Street.
53 acres are home to three types of lovely wetlands, including a small pond. The East section of the Open Lands is adjacent to Lake Owens. Part of the Village’s recently constructed bike/walking trail runs through the south section of the Open Lands, offering a slice of nature and exercise opportunities to residents.
Among the wildlife that can be seen in the Open Lands are deer, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, deer, possum, chipmunks and owls. A blue heron regularly visits the creek. The types of trees— which are kept diverse to maintain the long-term wellbeing of the forest—include Morton elms, conifers, crabapple, horse chestnut, ginkgo, oaks, maples and walnuts, among others.
Crews work two Saturdays every month to beautify and enhance the Open Lands. The volunteer crew is headed by the Village’s arborist Karl Persons and includes residents Eddie Hemp, Debbie Jones and Maureen Guger. From March through November, they are assisted by a work crew from the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program, who help clear weeds, cut down diseased and dead trees, and plant new trees and flowers.
Hazel Crest purchased the original 45 acres of Open Lands in 1986, with eight more acres added in 1994. The Open Lands Committee oversees the woodlands.
Hazel Crest is a major transportation hub, where Interstate 80 merges with the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294). As a result, the Village’s extraordinary location provides immediate access to Interstate 57, Interstate 294, Interstate 394, Interstate 80 and Interstate 94.
The Village is also home to a Metra Station, located at 170th Street and Park Avenue, with 144 commuter parking spaces. The Metra Electric Line transports commuters either north to downtown Chicago at Millennium Station or south to University Park, the last stop on the line. Portions of the Canadian National/Illinois Central intermodal facility and also located in Hazel Crest Proper.
The Village also has an extensive array of state highways:
- The intersection of 175th Street and Kedzie Avenue is located at the center of the Village.
- 167th Street intersects with Kedzie Avenue on the north side of the Village.
- Kedzie Avenue intersects at 183rd Street to the south.
- Major arteries:
- 167th Street
- 175th Street
- 183rd Street
- Kedzie Avenue
- Pulaski Road (Crawford Avenue)
- Wood Street
- Dixie Highway
- Governors Highway
Route 356 – Harvey-Homewood-Tinley Park
Provides daily service connecting Harvey, Markham, Homewood, Hazel Crest, Country Club Hills and Tinley Park via Park Ave., 159th St., Wood St., Dixie Hwy. and 183rd St. between the Harvey Transportation Center and the Tinley Park Mental Health Center.
Route 359 – Robbins/South Kedzie Avenue
North/South route which operates from Homewood Metra Station to 95th/Dan Ryan (CTA) Station. Also serves the Blue Island Metra/Electric Station, Metro South Medical Center, Markham Courthouse, South Suburban Hospital, Lydia Health Care Center, Waterford Estates and Grenoble Square Shopping Center. Between CTA Red Line 95th St. & 124th St./Halsted, buses serve posted stops only.
Route 354 – Harvey-Oak Forest Loop
Clockwise and counter-clockwise loop service from the Harvey Transportation Center on 147th St, Cicero Ave., 167th St, Dixie Hwy. and 154th St. through Harvey, Dixmoor, Posen, Midlothian, Oak Forest, Country Club Hills, Hazel Crest and Markham. Route provides direct service to South Suburban College’s University and College Center in Oak Forest and also serves Pace South Division.
The Village of Hazel Crest offers a Dial-A-Ride service for $2 per ride to senior citizens 60 years of age and older and to all disabled residents regardless of age.
The Village-operated Pace van includes a wheelchair lift for residents with disabilities. The van will take seniors to and from the Village’s Senior Center, to medical appointments, and other destinations. Eligible citizens in need of a ride may call (708) 335-9600, Ext. 118.
Hazel Crest is organized as a Village, represented by a Mayor, six Trustees, and a Village Clerk, all elected at-large.
Regular meetings of the Village Board take place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, starting at 7 p.m. During Regular Meetings, the Board votes on ordinances and other Village-related matters. Time is provided for the citizens to speak or voice their concerns during the “Public Participation” portion of the meeting.
The Board meets in Administrative Session at 6:00pm on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month before the regular meeting. The purpose of these "work meetings" is for board members to discuss pending board issues. No votes are taken during Administrative Meetings. The public is invited to attend Administrative Sessions, however, no time is allotted for citizens to speak.
Mijack Products, Inc.
Mijack Products, Inc., the world’s largest producer of intermodal cranes for the railroad and port intermodal industry, is headquartered at 167th Street in Hazel Crest. Mi-Jack is recognized as an industry leader and innovator in Travelift® and Translift™ rubber tire gantry crane manufacturing, sales, service and support.
Mi-Jack’s Hazel Crest facility produces Translift and Travelift rubber tire gantry cranes, now in use on six continents. Travelift cranes have capacities ranging from 15 to 325 tons. Founded by John Lanigan in 1954 from his home in the Chicago south suburbs, Mijack is now a multinational corporation providing machinery and solutions for the transportation and material handling industries worldwide.
Additionally, MiJack has been an outstanding corporate citizen, generously donating to local schools, baseball teams, the Village’s annual Hazelnut Festival, and many local projects. Because of MiJack’s community involvement and its phenomenal success story, Hazel Crest officially designated 167th Street as “Honorary Jack Lanigan Way” in July 2010.
Advocate South Suburban Hospital
Advocate South Suburban Hospital, one of the finest hospitals in the Chicagoland area, also calls Hazel Crest home. Located at Kedzie Avenue and 177th Street, Advocate is a 289-bed, acute care facility with 350 doctors on staff. In addition to offering a wide array of hospital services, the not-for-profit facility provides free screenings and a variety of other outreach services throughout the community. Its state-of-the-art emergency room is one of the most advanced in the nation. Advocate South Suburban Hospital is part of Advocate Health Care, the state’s largest hospital operator.
Palmer Lake Corporate Business Park
The Village’s Palmer Lake Corporate Business Park is located at 175th Street and Governors Highway. It is home to eight thriving businesses, including Graycor Construction, which builds factories and shopping centers in the U.S. and around the world, and Gierczyk Real Estate, a builder of retail and office centers across the nation.
Waterford Estates Retirement Community
Waterford Estates Retirement Community is one Hazel Crest’s trademark businesses, for which it is known around the region. It is considered one of the finest independent and assisted living rental retirement communities serving the south Chicago suburbs, northwest Indiana and beyond. Located on a beautiful 12-acre campus, Waterford offers active-senior apartments as well as an assisted living wing, which includes 24-hour staffing. Waterford provides all the amenities of a fine resort or country club, including first-class dining, an indoor pool, a variety of activities, and a warm and helpful staff.
The Village’s successful Palmer Lakes Corporate Business Park is located at 175th Street and Governors Highway. The Village annually distributes more than $700,000 in surplus TIF funds from the business park that benefit local schools, the public library, the park district, the college district, and numerous other taxing bodies.
Hazel Crest is located within the Harvey-Phoenix-Hazel Crest Enterprise Zone. Businesses within the zone are given a 6.25% abatement on the sales tax of building materials used to construct or renovate a business. They also receive a tax exemption on the state’s portion of their utility taxes. These tax incentives apply to both new and existing businesses, including Mi-Jack Products, the Village’s largest manufacturer. The zone includes all the commercial areas of the Village.
Hazel Crest is served by three elementary school districts:
- Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
- Hazel Crest Elementary School District 152.5
- Flossmoor Elementary School District 161.
The three high school districts serving the Village are:
- Bremen High School District 228
- Thornton Township High School District 205
- Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School District 233
- School District 144 operates Mae Jemison Elementary School, Highlands Elementary School, and Chateaux Elementary School in Hazel Crest, along with six others in surrounding suburbs.
- School District 152.5 operates Woodland Elementary School and Warren Palm School in Hazel Crest. The District also has schools in neighboring suburbs.
- School District 161 operates five elementary schools outside the Village that serve Hazel Crest, primarily neighborhoods south of 183rd Street.
Public Elementary/Middle Schools located in Hazel Crest:
- Mae Jemison School, 3450 W 177th St. (Grades: K – 6)
- Chateaux School, 3600 Chambord Lane (Grades: PK – 6)
- Highlands Elementary School, 3420 Laurel Lane; Grades: K – 6)
- Woodland School, 16900 S. Western Ave. (Grades: PK – 4)
- Warren Palm School, 1910 W. 170th St. (Grades: 5 – 6)
Private Elementary Schools in Hazel Crest:
- St. Anne School, 16801 Dixie Highway (Grades: KG-8)
- Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills.
- Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor (students residing south of 183rd Street)
- Thornwood High School in South Holland (students living east of California Avenue)
Hazel Crest sits in two community college districts:
- South Suburban College in South Holland.
- Prairie State College in Chicago Heights.
Residents living north of 183rd Street reside in South Suburban Community College District 510; those living south of 183rd Street reside in Prairie State Community College District 515.
Nearby Universities and Colleges
- Governors State University, (about 7 miles in University Park)
- Chicago State University (about 10 miles in Chicago)
- City Colleges of Chicago-Olive-Harvey College (about 10 miles in Chicago)
- Moraine Valley Community College (about 12 miles in Palos Hills)
- Purdue University-Calumet Campus (about 12 miles in Hammond, IN)
Hazel Crest prides itself in having many active Homeowners Associations representing a variety of different neighborhoods. The associations demonstrate that homeowners are committed to keeping their neighborhoods cohesive, safe, and informed. The Homeowners Associations are listed below:
Apple Tree Homeowners and Renters Association
Briar Woods Homeowners Association
Butternut Homeowners Association
Carriage Hills Homeowners Association
Carrington Court Townhome Association
Chateaux Homeowners Association
Collingtree Cove Homeowners Association
Courtyards of Stonecreek Homeowners Association
Dynasty Lakes Homeowners Association
English Valley Homeowners Association
Ginkgo Homeowners Association
Grow Homes Homeowners Association
Hazel Crest Proper Neighborhood Homeowners Association
Hickory Condominium Association Homeowners Association
Highland Homeowners Association
Ironwood Homeowners Association
Martha Park Building #1
Pacesetter Homeowners Association
Pottawatomie/Twin Creeks Homeowners Association
Stonebridge Civic Homeowners Association
Stonebridge Condos Homeowners Association
Surfside Homeowners Association
The Club Mid-Rise One Homeowners Association
The Club of Village West Town Home Condo II & III Homeowners Association
Water’s Edge Homeowners Association
Hazel Crest is part of the Grande Prairie Public Library District, which also includes neighboring Country Club Hills. Grande Prairie Public Library is located at 3479 W. 183rd Street in Hazel Crest. The library is a member of the Metropolitan Library System.
Residents of Hazel Crest and Country Club Hills are eligible for a free library card and numerous programs held by the library. In 2009, the library celebrated its 35th anniversary. The Library District is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees, elected at-large between Country Club Hills and Hazel Crest. The library and the Village are separate governmental taxing bodies.
The Hazel Crest Park District and the Village of Hazel Crest are separate governmental taxing bodies. The Park District has its own five-member Board of Commissioners elected at-large during regular elections. The Park District operates more than 200 acres of parks and provides recreational programming for the District’s residents. The Park District celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2007.