The Village of University Park began as the Federally funded new town of Park Forest South. It was planned to become a very large community. However, difficulties arose in the economy, in the requirements and lack of resources from HUD, in the projections for growth, and in other areas, leading to suspended development in late 1974. For over two years, intense activity at public and private levels untangled many of the problems. The new town, intended for 100,000, adapted to a slow-growth plan anticipating an eventual 20,000 to 25,000 residents. The 2000 population, however, was 6,662, up slightly from the previous decade.
The Village is home to Governors State University, the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, major forest preserves, and the southernmost station of the METRA Electric Line.
New town planning remains evident. The industrial park next to Interstate 57 is integral to the village, and residential areas continue to offer open space, bikeways, and additional development. The new town heritage includes the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, a monumental internationally recognized outdoor sculpture park at GSU developed by Lewis Manilow to honor his father.