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After the Wisconsin glacier retreated from the Chicago region, it still occupied and dammed the northern end of the Lake Michigan basin, forming glacial Lake Chicago.

Thus, the climate may have been more equable than it is now.

The Chicago region in particular was once under the southern edge of the Wisconsinan ice sheet.

When this massive ice sheet started to retreat 18,000 years ago, it depressed the land and created a widen basin: Much of the city of Chicago lies on beach and lake sediments deposited by Lake Michigan and its predecessor glacial Lake Chicago.

This spruce forest lasted for about 1,000 years, until about 15,000 years ago, when climate warmed and deciduous trees became more abundant, including balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), black ash (Fraxinus nigra), and ironwood (Ostrya virginiana or Carpinus caroliniana).