The stars of University Park in Chicago

Those looking for a slice of rural heaven might think they're out of luck looking at real estate in Chicago, but they could consider the far southern suburb of University Park. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune profiled this suburban gem, calling it a "refreshing change of pace" and noting that its distance from the bright lights of the city make this an excellent spot to view the stars and constellations.

University Park is located just about 35 miles south of Chicago, putting this suburb within commuting distance to the bustling city with giving residents an experience closer to rural living. There are many farms here, and the population rests at just over 7,000 people.

The city has a low crime rate and the Tribune reported that this is due in part to community relation efforts of the local police. One of these efforts includes a "Coffees with the Chief" program that allows residents to sit with Police Chief Mel Davis and discuss their concerns.

University Park has been building up its primary business hub, the Town Center. The source revealed that while it currently hosts a half-dozen businesses, a day care center, barber shop, and gym, University Park is looking to continue to attract national retailers and restaurants to the area.

Governors State University can be found here, and plans to introduce student housing could have a significant effect on the currently commuter-based educational institution.

Another recent article in the Tribune reviewed some of the best public sculptures in the Chicago area. Included among the likes of the renowned Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, a University Park attraction appeared. On the grounds of the Governors State University campus, the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park can be found.This park was established more than 30 years ago and includes a collection of 27 major works from contemporary sculpture masters. The presentation of these sculptures in the natural park setting is intentional, to accent the "nature of sculpture," according to the park website.

University Park is still a relatively new suburb. The Tribune revealed that since its incorporation in 1967, the development has grown to include schools, the university, a library, a golf course, an industrial park and a stop on the Metra commuter rail line. Plans to further develop this suburban town are notably on their way but Mayor Vivian Covington reminded people that this rural haven of Chicago will still its charm.

"We're a diamond in the rough, with plenty of space to be developed and talented people," Covington said. "Development will not alter the character of University Park."