Looking at the blocks of strip malls, huge schools and sprawling subdivisions, it's hard to believe was once just a one-horse town -- and not so long ago.
As recently as 1991, just 4,700 people called the village home, and it's a safe bet most of them didn't live in 4-bedroom homes or commute to Chicago to work.
So it's not a huge surprise that many of the 40,000 who have since put down roots here have no idea what a richly historic village this is. Yes, most know about and that two of the most famous pre-interstate country-country roads -- -- intersected at what's now U.S. 30 and Route 59, but there is so much more to the Plainfield story than that.
How can you look at the DuPage River or the marker for Fort Beggs and not wonder about the Native Americans who once farmed and fished and hunted here? How can you look at that huge concrete grain elevator on Main Street and not ask what's the story behind that?
For that matter, have you ever wondered why downtown Plainfield is on Lockport Street, and not Main?
Newspapers are in the business of documenting "history" as it happens, but all those things that have led to this day are rooted in the past. As the old adage goes, how can you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been?
To that end, Plainfield Patch is launching a new column called "A Town Called Plainfield." Every Thursday starting Oct. 13 we will be putting the spotlight on some aspect of the Plainfield story in bite-sized pieces that we hope will entertain, educate and maybe debunk some old tales along the way.
And who better to pen our town's story than Michael Lambert, a Plainfield native who arguably knows more about local history than just about anyone around.
Lambert, an architect and owner of ARRIS Architects + Planners in Plainfield, can trace his family's Plainfield roots back to the mid-1840s. He holds a master's degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is an instructor at the the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where he teaches archival documentation and vernacular architecture.
He's also the founding chairman of the Will County Historic Preservation Commission and the Plainfield Historic Preservation Commission, a past member of Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council, and a member and former president of the Plainfield Historical Society since 1977.
There is no end to things to write about but we hope Patch readers will help determine what topics Lambert covers. Tell us what you want to know. Your questions can be anything from how did a certain street get its name to the history of a particular house to "what the heck is that thing" -- and everything in between.
You ask it and we'll find out. Send your questions to Editor Karen Sorensen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 815-666-4027 and we'll get them in the pipeline.