The Grosse Point Lighthouse, built in 1873, stands a monument to a time when the U.S. heavily relied on maritime navigation. The building of the Erie Canal in New York and the Illinois & Michigan canal in Illinois connected New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, turning the Great Lakes and connecting rivers into a national water-highway system. As a result, speculators heavily invested in Chicago, turning it into a major port city (and eventual railroad hub). The waters near Grosse Point (in what is now Evanston) proved to be quite dangerous, thus the lighthouse was deemed necessary by the federal government.
The lighthouse is only open for tours during the summer months, but the grounds are free for visitors to walk around on throughout the whole year.