The section of the boulevard system north of Humboldt Park dates to the late 1870s, when the park first opened. As a result, this entire portion—present-day Kedzie and Logan boulevards and Logan and Palmer squares—originally was called Humboldt Boulevard.
The earliest improvements to "Humboldt Boulevard" included grading and seeding the medians, planting trees, and laying curbs, sidewalks, and a gravel roadway. Additional investments were made after the area was annexed into Chicago in 1889, such as installing sewer and water service and extending the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad to Logan Square (1895). These improvements helped foster a real estate boom, which is why most of the area's housing dates from that time, including one of the city's finest collections of graystones.
Logan Boulevard was improved in the late 1890s, when it—and Logan Square—were renamed in honor of Gen. John A. Logan (1826-86), a Civil War commander, U.S. Senator from Illinois, and the founder of Memorial Day. A statue of Logan on horseback appears in Grant Park. Palmer Square was named for Illinois governor John M. Palmer (1817-1900), who was in office when the state legislation creating the park systems was enacted in 1869. Kedzie Boulevard was named for John H. Kedzie (1815-1903), a real estate developer
and outspoken critic of slavery who helped organize the Republican Party in Illinois.
In order to generate revenues for the care of the boulevards, property along them was charged a special assessment. As a result, the boulevards were among the first streets in the city to be paved, and soon became popular places for carriage rides and bicycling.
Palmer Square not only held the distinction of being one of the widest sections of the boulevards—at 400 feet—but its rectangular, ¼-mile-long shape made it a natural for unofficial bicycle races. After the turn of the century, many of the community's social events were held here, including summer band concerts in Logan Square and Fourth of July ﬁreworks in Palmer Square.
In 1914, in honor of the state's 100th anniversary, a 70-foot-tall monument was designed for the center of Logan Square. The architect was Henry Bacon, who also designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.; the sculptor was Evelyn Beatrice Longman, the first woman sculptor to be elected a full member of the National Academy of Design. The eagle at the top of the monument is a reference to the state flag, while the relief figures around the base—Native Americans explorers, farmers, and laborers—were meant to show the rapid changes that had occurred in Illinois during its first century of statehood. The
Illinois Centennial Memorial Column was dedicated on October 13, 1918.