What You Don’t Know About the North Shore

Here’s some North Shore trivia for you: How did Half Day Road get its name?


Did you answer: Because it’s a half-day’s ride on horseback to Chicago?

Bzzz, wrong.

Geoffrey Baer, producer of the documentary “Chicago’s North Shore,” says almost everyone who grows up on the North Shore believes that story. But in fact, Baer says the road is named for a local Native American leader named Aptakisic, whose name translates to “Middle of the Day” or “Half Day.”

“He could do a task in half a day that would take a normal person a whole day,” Baer says.

That’s just one of the juicy nuggets of North Shore history that Baer learned while developing the documentary for WTTW.

Baer will speak about the North Shore’s little-known history and fun facts at New Trier Township’s Annual Town Meeting on April 12. The event, which begins at 7 p.m. at the North Senior Center in Northfield, also includes a reception, reports from elected officials and recognition of township volunteers.

Baer grew up in Deerfield, but he didn’t learn the true history of the North Shore until 2002 when he began making a series of documentaries about the suburbs for WTTW.

“I think that there’s a bias that the city has more history than the suburbs,” says Baer, who has been a producer at Channel 11 for 21 years and a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation since 1987. “But that’s not true. The suburbs have every bit as much history as the city and are every bit as interesting as the city.”

He says much of our history is right under our feet.

Take Green Bay Road, for example. Have you noticed that you go uphill when you approach Green Bay from the east? That’s because it used to be an ancient shoreline, and it was also used as a trail for Native Americans and stage coaches. Native Americans marked the trail by bending back tree branches so they pointed toward the ground ― something we can still see evidence of today.

“There are trees on the front lawns in Kenilworth that have huge bends in them,” Baer says.

Or the Edens Expressway. Did you know it was named for a man who never owned nor drove a car?

Baer didn’t want to reveal all of his secrets before his speech, but he’s confident even long-time residents will be surprised.

To watch the full-length program “Chicago’s North Shore” visit wttw.com/main.taf?p=16,1.

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