One of the books I have in my collection is The Artistic Guide to Chicago and the World Columbian Exposition. Published in 1892, it is more or less a travel guide on what to see and do in Chicago while attending the world's fair.
There is a brief section on the best "suburban towns" to visit, most of which were later annexed to the city. I live at Winthrop and Argyle, part of a village that was once known as Argyle Park. From what I've heard, Argyle Park had many large, beautiful homes and mansions that were later torn down for the six-flat apartments of the twenties (which I also love) and apartment hotels. The brief description from the book reads: "Situated on the Evanston division of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul R.R. It is is distant from the City Hall five and a half miles. It is a beautiful suburb with wide avenues and macadamized streets."
I had to look up what macadamized meant. It sounded fancy. The American Heritage Dictionary defined it as "to construct or pave (a road) with macadam." Not very helpful, that. I finally had to look it up on Wikipedia, which describes the entire process. Skip ahead if this is more than you want to know: "Macadam is a type of road construction pioneered by the Scotsman John Loudon McAdam in around 1820. It consisted of creating three layers of stones laid on a crowned subgrade with side ditches for drainage. The first two layers consisted of angular hand-broken aggregate, maximum size three inches, to a total depth of about 8 inches. The third layer was about 2 inches thick with a maximum aggregate size of 1 inch. Each layer would be compacted with a heavy roller, causing the angular stones to lock together with their neighbors."
The description of Edgewater in the Aristic Guide was a little more detailed: "Situated on the Evanston division of the Chicago, Milwauke & St. Paul Railroad, seven and a half miles from the City Hall. It is charmingly situated just north of the city limits, on a gently sloping eminence overlooking Lake Michigan. The town was originally laid out in a natural forest of beech, birch, and maple. Only enough of these were removed to allow space for avenues and building, leaving the town itself buried in a wilderness of foliage. It is the most charming suburb of Chicago. The residences are all of modern architecture, elegant in design, solid in construction, and rich in furnishings. Between the spreading branches of the trees a fine view of the lake is presented. In short distance from the city, together with its many natural charms, makes it a favorite residence for the wealthiest citizens."
Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?