The village of Matteson was founded in 1855 and named after the 10th governor of Illinois, Joel Matteson. German immigrants were the area's first settlers, seeking agriculture and business opportunities. The Illinois Central and Michigan Central Railroads provided the stimulus for the growth of one of the first communities to the south of Chicago. The area became popular in the 1890s, when Chicago residents rode special trains to visit the amusement park run by Moses and Freeman Elliott. By the mid-20th century, the town had established itself as a growing bedroom community due to the electrification of the Illinois Central suburban service in 1926 and an increase in residential housing designed for American GIs returning home after World War II. Transportation has always played a key role in the development of the village, which sits at the crossroads of America's first land grant railroad, the Illinois Central, and the country's first transcontinental road, the Lincoln Highway. Since the 1970s, Matteson has grown intoa vibrant retail and commercial area for Chicago's south suburbs.
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