Pierce Downer came to the area that now bears his name in 1832. Like many pioneers arriving in Illinois, Downer was drawn by the fertile farmland. Other families soon arrived in the area and by 1835 a school had been established. Many early settlers were staunch abolitionists and made their homes into safe havens for runaway slaves on their way to Chicago. The area rapidly grew after the Civil War, when the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad connected Downers Grove to the rest of the country. The Village of Downers Grove was incorporated in 1873.
Downers Grove today is a thriving community with activities and attractions for everyone. The Downers Grove Ice Arena offers public skating, while Tivoli Bowl provides 12 lanes of family fun. McCollum Park Miniature Golf and Galley was designed with a nautical theme. The Morton Arboretum is located on 1500 acres and showcases more than 3000 species of trees and shrubs from all over the world, as well as 25 miles of trails. Founders Hill Brewing Company features live blues music and folk singers can be found at the Two Way Street Coffee House. Tivoli Theatre opened in 1928 and was the second theater in the country to show films with sound. Films and live performances are the theater's major present-day attractions. The Grove Players are a community theater group open to anyone interested in performing. Nearby Oak Terrace is home to the Drury Lane Theater, a fine dining establishment, featuring productions put on by both local and world-renowned performers and touring companies.
Village visitors and residents will also enjoy the many special events that take place year-round in Downers Grove. Each January, professional ice carvers compete for prize money in the Ice Sculpture Festival. Trolley rides provide a fun way for the whole family to view the sculptures displayed throughout the downtown district. Summer brings the Heritage Festival, a three-day event that is one of the largest of its kind in the region. An art fair, with world-class entertainment, children's activities and rides provide fun in the sun for kids of all ages. Weekly events such as the Farmer's Market and the Concerts in the Park series are other popular summer attractions.
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