To look at the names of the towns, cities, and villages on a map of the Chicago area, you would get the impression that our city is surrounded by some of the greatest geographical diversity on the North American continent: heights, hills, ridges, woods, forests, brooks, meadows, groves, dales, glens, mountains, springs, and islands. It turns out that this is not the case at all. We recently made phone calls to nearly a dozen suburbs, and discovered that all of them are falsely advertising their natural features. There are no hills in Orland Hills. Mount Prospect is not a mountain. Blue Island is not surrounded by water. The people who named these places are all a bunch of liars. Here are the transcripts of our conversations with hapless suburban secretaries who had to waste a minute of their Tuesday afternoons responding to our snarky crank calls, just so we could prove that every one of their towns is busted.


“Village of Harwood Heights.”

“I’ve been looking at real estate in Harwood Heights, and I’m trying to find out what part of town the heights are located in, and how high they are.”

“I don’t know what that is, the heights.”

“So there are no heights in Harwood Heights?”



“City of Rolling Meadows.”

“I’m coming to visit Rolling Meadows, and I’m trying to find out where the meadows are, and what I can do there.”

“There aren’t very many meadows. We do have a nice park area. It used to be a meadow. If you want to read the book They Took the Challenge by Esther Perica, it’ll explain how Rolling Meadows got its name.”


“Village of Western Springs, may I help you?”

“I’m calling to find out where the springs are located.”

“Where the what?”

“The springs that Western Springs is named after.”

“Let me transfer you to the water department.”

“This is Erin.”

“I’m calling to find out where the springs are located.”

“Uh, we don’t have springs. We have wells. There used to be springs. The wells come from underground aquifers, and there used to be springs in Western Springs, and that’s where it got its name from.”


“Downers Grove Park District”

“I’m coming to Downers Grove and I’m trying to find out where the grove is, and what I can do there.”

“Downers Grove is a town, a village.”

“Is there a grove that it’s named after?”

“I honestly wouldn’t know.”


“Good afternoon, village of Hinsdale Parks and Recreation. How may I help you?”

“Can you tell me where the dale is that Hinsdale is named after?”

(Pause). “No.” (Laughter) “It’s not actually named after a dale; it was the name of the town in New York that one of the founders was originally from. There may be a dale in Hinsdale, New York.”

(Editor’s note: Hinsdale, New York, is named after Hinsdale, New Hampshire, where there is a dale.)


“Thank you for calling the village of Chicago Ridge. How may I direct your call?”

“I’ve been looking at real estate listings for Chicago Ridge, and I’m trying to find something that’s on or near the ridge. Can you tell me where that’s located?”

“The ridge?”

“Yeah. The ridge that Chicago Ridge is named after.”

(Pause.) “The ridge. Nope, I couldn’t help you with that.”

“So there’s not actually a ridge?”

“No. Years ago, when they were building this, a hundred years ago, the railroads, there was like big hills kind of, so to speak. We’re flatlands now.”

“They just kind of plowed them over?”

“Yes, exactly.”


“Mayor’s office.”

“I’m coming to visit Blue Island and I’m trying to find out if there’s a bridge to the island or if you have to take a ferry.”

“No. Just normal streets. There’s no water you have to go over.”

“Oh, so it’s not actually an island?”



“Village of Bolingbrook. May I help you?”

“I want to go fishing in Bolingbrook. Can you tell me where the brook is located?”

“When you say the brook, what do you mean? The high school?”

“The brook that Bolingbrook is named after.”

“Do you know what the brook is, Crystal? Yeah, that’s what I thought: the village of Bolingbrook.”

“But there’s not actually a brook there that it’s named after?”

“No. I believe they had a contest and that was chosen as a kind of nickname for all of Bolingbrook.”

“Oh, so it’s not in reference to anything that’s there.”


“Thank you very much for clearing that up.”

“Sure, no problem.”


“Village of Orland Hills.”

“I’ve been looking at real estate ads for Orland Hills, and I’m trying to find something that’s up in the hills.”

“Up in the hills?”

“The hills that Orland Hills is named after.”

“I don’t know of any hills here.”


“Mount Prospect Chamber.”

“Hi. I’m thinking of looking for a place to live in Mount Prospect, and I’m trying to find out how high the mountain is and whether it interferes with TV or radio reception.”

“The mountain is about…400 inches high.”

“Oh. I thought Mount Prospect was named after a mountain.”

“We are in Mount Prospect, but there is no mountain.”


“Village of Glenview. How can I help you?”

“Where’s the best place in the village to get a view of the glen?”

(Pause.) “What’s the best place? Gee. Well, there’s no skyscrapers around here. I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Where is the glen located, exactly?”

“That’s gonna be — Patriot and Chestnut is the entrance of the little town there, and then it’s a very short street, a bunch of stores, shops, boutiques, restaurants. You can walk the whole thing. There’s a movie theater there as well.”

“I’m just thinking of glen like a little valley. Is there anything like that there?”

“No. It’s the name of a downtown area with a shopping center where there’s homes.”

“It’s not like in Northern Ireland, you go to the Nine Glens of Antrim. There’s nothing like that in Glenview?”

“No. No, no, no.”


“Village of Glendale Heights.”

“I really don’t know where to start…”