Welcome to Winnetka
Winnetka is a village of fine residences, tree-lined streets, excellent schools, attractive public buildings, neighborhood parks, beautiful public beaches and boating areas, and four distinctive pedestrian-scaled commercial districts located in a unique, natural setting. Nestled along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the heart of Illinois’ North Shore, Winnetka is located just 17 miles north of Chicago’s central business district. The Village has gradually evolved with a cohesive development pattern that largely separates different types of land use.
Since most of the Village was built before 1930, prior to the influence of the automobile and its use as the primary mode of transportation, Winnetka was designed so that its residents could walk to trains, schools, parks, and shops. Today, much of the Village’s charm flows from this pedestrian-orientation, an attribute that distinguishes Winnetka from many suburbs in the Chicago metropolitan area. All of these attributes allow the Village to maintain its commitment to a tradition of attractive residential neighborhoods, citizen involvement, local shops and educational excellence.
The Village of Winnetka was incorporated in 1869, prior to the adoption of the first Illinois Constitution, and while governed by Illinois statutes pertaining to municipal governments, it enjoys Special Charter status with the State of Illinois. A distinguishing feature of the Special Charter is the provision that “no member of the Council shall receive any compensation for his services as such, and the members of the Council are hereby prohibited from voting any present or reward to themselves or any member thereof to be paid out of the funds of said Village.” This provision allows for true citizen service on the Village Council and encourages participation of men and women who are willing to give their time and abilities without compensation because of their interested in maintaining an efficient and economical municipal government. Additionally, in 2005, the Village approved a referendum granting the Village Home Rule status, which provides for greater legislative and revenue-generating flexibility.