The Town Of Harvard, Illinois

Harvard is a small town in the northeast Illinois county of McHenry, located approximately seven miles south of the Wisconsin border. Conveniently positioned in the Chicago/Rockford/Milwaukee triangle, Harvard offers its residents the charm of a small town with the advantages of easy access to major cities and recreational areas. The nearby Lake Geneva/Fontana resort offers swimming, boating, fishing, hotels, and restaurants. During the winter months, there are three ski hills minutes away, and the area has the largest number of conservation acres in the state. Metra’s Union Pacific/Northwest Line serves Harvard with daily passenger service to Northwestern Station in downtown Chicago.

Harvard is proud of its aquatic center which opened in 2001. The pool is 7,000 square feet and features two diving boards, a water slide, and is handicapped accessible. There is an adjoining picnic area and sand play area, and a sand volley ball pit. A bath house and concession stand have been built. Four parks in the town offer ice skating, sledding, walking paths, softball, tennis, soccer, and baseball along with other recreational amenities.

Harvard continues to draw families to the community for its well-planned residential and commercial growth.

Harvard History

“As the Chicago & North Western Railway was being built toward Janesville, Wisconsin in 1855, three men who were North Western stockholders platted a community in southeastern Chemung Township. This area would be a stop to service the trains in the days of wood fuel. In April of 1856 the railroad accepted the town plat as a station named Harvard. The railroad built engine-handling facilities there as well in 1859. As the railroad started employing more people, Harvard’s population exploded. The community was incorporated as a town in 1868.

Surrounded by fertile farmland on the north and fields of hay on the south, Harvard became a great center of a dairy industry. The railroad transported the fresh milk products to Chicago. The hay-handling equipment firm, Hunt, Helm, and Farris arrived in 1883 with many job opportunities. By 1891 Harvard had become so large that the voters acted to form a city with ward divisions, and a mayor was elected.

Harvard’s Milk Days began in 1942, attracting thousands of visitors with a lavish parade and celebration down the streets, presided over by a large, plastic cow named Harmilda. However, dairy farming declined as the demand for produce in the Chicago area grew.

The railroad’s change to diesel power in the late 1950’s produced many layoffs. The Admiral Corporation’s radio assembly plant expanded in the 1950’s, but the popularity of television forced the plant to close in the 1970’s. As urban expansion closed in on Harvard in the late 1960’s, residents lobbied county government to adopt land-use plans to preserve their agricultural areas. However, demand for shopping and infrastructure improvements caused the city to annex agricultural lands for industrial development.”

Harvard Trivia & Fun Facts

“Harvard is known as the “Milk Center of the World”. The “Milk Days” festival is the longest running festival in the state of Illinois. It is attended yearly by tens of thousands of people along the two-mile route through the town.

Major ancestry groups in Harvard are Mexican, German, and Irish.

The symbol of Milk Days, the large statue of Harmilda the Cow, is a fiberglass fixture in downtown Harvard, proclaiming Harvard “The Milk Center of the World”.”

Important Information For Harvard:

Pet License Information for Harvard, IL.

It is unlawful to permit any dog or cat to run at large in the City. Dogs that are not leashed shall be deemed to be running at large. Owners are responsible for the removal of any waste from such animals in public streets, sidewalks, alleys or any other public places. Dogs must be licensed with McHenry County Public Health Department. Dog licenses may be obtained by veterinarians at the time the rabies vaccination is given. The City of Harvard has adopted the State Statute pertaining to Vicious Dogs.

Dogs that are leashed and licensed shall be allowed within City park property provided that the person walking or exercising the dog shall be responsible for any damage done to the landscaping of any park and for the removal of any waste from said animals.