Named for the native elk that roamed the northern Illinois forests and grasslands, Elk Grove Village was initially settled in 1834 by pioneer New England farmers. By 1848, German-immigrant farmers soon settled in the area, establishing a thriving community that would eventually become Elk Grove Village. The rural community transformed into a center of commerce when Douglas Aircraft built a military transport manufacturing plant in nearby Orchard Place during World War II. Following the war, the industrial facility and land was sold for $1 to the City of Chicago as war surplus. The location would then become the world's busiest airport - O'Hare International Airport. The phenomenal expansion of O'Hare during the 1950s and 1960s closely parallels Elk Grove Village's growth as a successful community and leading Midwest industrial center.
The Village's expansion is also attributed to an enterprising group of Dallas-based land developers that selected Elk Grove Village as its site for a planned community during the 1950s. Centex Corporation chose the Village because of its proximity to rail, the new air facilities, and major highways. The group acquired 1,500 continuous acres of land to build residential and industrial sections of the community, leading to Elk Grove Village's incorporation in 1956. A master plan for the controlled growth of the Village was initiated and construction of industrial buildings, homes, corporate offices, retail establishments and schools soon followed. Under the comprehensive plan, the Village was divided in half with residential development to the west and a business park on the east, bordering the airport.