The River Forest Park District was organized in the summer of 1913 for the purpose of establishing small parks and recreation grounds for the growing village. At the election held on July 31, 1913, 644 ballots were cast. Of these, 395 votes in favor of setting up of the new Park District and 249 voted against it. Judge John E. Owens canvassed the election and entered a decree declaring the District organized. Five commissioners were elected who then voted Robert L. Benson the first Board president.
From 1913 until 1992, the Park District served in a capacity as the main provider of outdoor recreation facilities in the community, with the Playground and Recreation Commission of the Village of River Forest primarily responsible for providing public recreational programming during that time.
On March 23, 1992, the Village of River Forest approved an ordinance providing for the merger and assumption of functions of the Playground and Recreation Commission of the Village of River Forest by the Park District. Additionally, the ordinance authorized the Park District to assume the tax levy for the "Playground and Recreation Tax," previously levied by the Village. The Park Board ratified this agreement in April of 1992. Since then, the Park District has had the sole responsibility for providing public recreation programs in the Village.
From 1992 until the present, the Park District has seen steady growth in terms of park acquisition and development projects, coupled with tremendous growth in programming opportunities for children, teens, and adults.