The first shopping center in the United States planned around the automobile, Market Square was envisioned as part of the Lake Forest Improvement Plan and influenced by the City Beautiful movement. It was designed to replace a business district that aligned with the Chicago & Northwestern Railway tracks. Planned by local residents, real estate developer Arthur T. Aldis and architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, the u-shaped building complex is designed in the Arts & Crafts style, surrounding a central green space. Contiguous shops with apartments above line the sides, with picturesque towers providing visual interest. The roadway between the green and the commercial buildings is configured to incorporate head-in parking.
Completed in 1916, Market Square is located immediately across from the city’s train station, providing a formal entrance to local shops and restaurants. The green, a long swath of lawn, is lined by rows of elms and includes a fountain, park benches, brick pathways, and a flagpole memorial to World War I soldiers. The fountain at the east end of the green is topped with a sculpture designed by Shaw’s daughter Sylvia Shaw Judson, “Girl with Baby on Shoulder.” It was installed in 1982. Market Square 2000, an association of concerned citizens created by the Lake Forest Garden Club, renovated the greenspace in the 1990s. Market Square was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Lake Forest Historic District in 1978.