Park Forest is a village located south of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, with the small southern portion in Will county, Illinois, United States. The village was originally designed as a planned community for veterans returning from World War II. As of the 2010 census, the village had a population of 21,975. Park Forest has multiple public and private schools. In addition to the arts and culture scene including Tall Grass Arts Association and the Illinois Theatre Center, residents also have access to a myriad of recreational opportunities for both children and adults such as the Park Forest Aqua Center. Notable people from Park Forest include the former artistic director of the Illinois Theatre Center, Etel Billig. Park Forest is bordered by Olympia Fields to the north, Chicago Heights to the east, University Park to the south, and Richton Park and Matteson to the west.
Developers Nathan Manilow, Carroll F. Sweet and Philip M. Klutznick held a press conference in the Palmer House in Chicago on October 28, 1946, to announce the planned development of a new self-governing community in Chicago's south suburbs. This project, soon to be referred to as Park Forest, was to be developed by American Community Builders (ACB). The village of Park Forest was partly designed by town planner Elbert Peets in the tradition of planned communities around the nation to provide housing for veterans returning from World War II.
Studs Terkel, in his oral history of World War II, The Good War, says Park Forest and other such middle-class suburbs grew out of the new prosperity after the war. First he quotes an unnamed GI, "The war changed our whole idea of how we wanted to live when we came back.