A north suburb of Chicago, the Village of Skokie is located between Evanston and the forest preserves along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Its downtown is on Oakton Street near the southwest corner, but the main commercial area is Old Orchard Mall on the north side, one of the Chicago area's busiest shopping centers.
The original settlement was predominantly German and Luxembourgeois, and was incorporated as Niles Centre in 1888. In 1940 the name was changed to Skokie to avoid confusion with neighboring Niles; the name comes from the Potawatomie Indian word for "big swamp" and had already been used for the series of lagoons in the forest preserves to the north. In 1962 Skokie passed Oak Park in population to become the largest village in America, and subsequently billed itself as the "World's Largest Village".