Virtually every resident of Lake Geneva must wonder, from time to time, what the future in the city will bring. One, of course, can only speculate about the future. But if the past history of the city gives us some clues and if the present is an indication of where the city might be heading, perhaps the future in Lake Geneva might come more clearly into focus.
The two factors that have played the central role in determining Lake Geneva’s past and its present are the beauty of Geneva Lake upon which the city is located, and the city’s proximity to one of the world’s greatest metropolises, Chicago and its suburbs. There is no reason to doubt that these two factors will play a central role in determining Lake Geneva’s future.
Lake Geneva will surely continue to be one of the nation’s foremost resort communities. Wealthy Chicagoans will continue to build, purchase, and live in homes on the shores of Geneva Lake. Lake Geneva has been and will continue to be a city in which people like to live.
If one wishes to have a glimpse of the future of Lake Geneva, one need only drive up the Center Street hill past the Stone Ridge subdivision and gaze at the vast expanse of new homes currently being developed by the Shodeen company. Or one can drive to the southeast side of the city and take a look at the Symphony Bay development between Townline and Bloomfield roads adjacent to Highway 12. On the northwest side of the city, one can see the area being prepared for development in the Edgewood subdivision.
There are other factors that may or may not play a role in Lake Geneva’s future, such as whether the rail connection between Lake Geneva and Chicago will be restored. If the rail connection is restored, it will have a large impact on Lake Geneva’s future. Will small factories be induced to come to Lake Geneva? If so, they could provide employment for hundreds of the city’s residents.
If Foxconn is ever completed in Mount Pleasant near Racine, many management employees might want to reside in Lake Geneva, given the attractiveness of the city as a place to live. What will happen to the former Hillmoor Gulf Club? Will it become the site of a vast expanse of new, upscale homes, or will Hillmoor remain a pristine gateway to the city?
Will an institution of higher learning ever be established in Lake Geneva? Such an institution is something that Lake Geneva presently lacks. The Air Force Academy was never built on Geneva Lake’s south shore, Gateway Technical College was built in Elkhorn, and the Northwestern Military and Naval Academy departed Geneva Lake for Delafield, Wisconsin. Could Beloit College or Carthage College establish a satellite campus in Lake Geneva?
No one could have predicted that Milton College would close, but its closing definitely had a very negative impact on the city of Milton. A new institution of higher learning could have a very positive impact on Lake Geneva.
Could Lake Como be dredged and made deeper, thus enhancing Como as a resort destination?
There are, of course, other factors that may have an impact on Lake Geneva’s future, such as global warming and climate change. It is possible that Geneva Lake will no longer freeze over during the winters. Will additional winter activities like the ice castle draw more tourists to Lake Geneva during the winters? Might more ski resorts be established?
The glass through which we can envision Lake Geneva’s future must be opaque at best. But through it, we can still see the beauty of Geneva Lake and the proximity of Chicago and its suburbs — two factors that residents of Lake Geneva were clearly aware of in 1871 as they pondered the village’s future.
Quinn is a Lake Geneva native who is the University Archivist Emeritus at Northwestern University.