Parks in Chicago

Parks in Chicago include open spaces and facilities, developed and managed by the Chicago Park District. The City of Chicago devotes 8.5% of its total land acreage to parkland, which ranked it 13th among high-density population cities in the United States in 2012.[1] Since the 1830s, the official motto of Chicago has been Urbs in horto, Latin for "City in a garden" for its commitment to parkland.[2] In addition to serving residents, a number of these parks also double as tourist destinations, most notably Lincoln Park, Chicago's largest park, visited by over 20 million people each year, is one of the most visited parks in the United States.[3] Notable architects, artists and landscape architects have contributed to the 570 parks, including Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jens Jensen, Dwight Perkins, Frank Gehry, and Lorado Taft.[2]

The riverfront pavilion in Ping Tom Memorial Park.


In 1836, a year before Chicago was incorporated,[4] the Board of Canal Commissioners held public auctions for the city's first lots. Foresighted citizens, who wanted the Lake Michigan lakefront kept as public open space, convinced the commissioners to designate two lots as public area. The land east of Michigan Avenue between Madison Street and Park Row (11th Street) was designated "Public Ground—A Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of Any Buildings, or Other Obstruction, whatever." This lot was soon expanded to Randolph Street, and it was officially named Lake Park in 1847.[5] It was renamed Grant Park in 1901. A second parcel, west of Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Washington Streets, was designated Dearborn Park.

As Chicago grew, demand increased for public spaces, but the Chicago Common Council did little to address these requests. Instead, real estate investors realized that small public squares could increase the value of their property. In 1842, Washington Square Park became the first of these ventures, developed by the American Land Company. Similar projects were completed with Goudy Square Park in 1847 and Union Park in 1853. Although the Cook County Court agreed to allocate a major park on the South Side in 1857, these plans were rescinded two years later, and public outcry continued.

Chicago's second large-scale allocation of parkland came in 1860, when a large section of the City Cemetery was re-designated as a park. This was due to concerns led by John Henry Rauch about the possible public health impact of having a large cemetery on the lake. This new park was also named Lake Park; however, due to confusion over its name, it was renamed to Lincoln Park in 1865, in honor of the recently deceased President. Slowly, all of the graves were moved from the cemetery, greatly expanding the park.[fn 1]

1886 Chicago map by Rand McNally
An 1886 map detailing the system of parks and boulevards that would circle the city.

Haussmann's renovation of Paris and New York's Greensward Plan in the 1850s and 1860s turned new attention to the role that parks can play in urban development. William Butler Ogden, the first mayor of Chicago, advocated for a state bill to create a large park on the South Side. Although initially rejected when proposed in 1868, the Illinois legislature accepted this plan in 1869. The objective was to create a system of parks and boulevards that would form a circle around Chicago.


The Chicago Park District manages 220 facilities in 570 parks covering more than 7,600 acres (3,100 ha) of land throughout the city.[6] This extensive network of parks also includes nine lakefront harbors over 24 miles (39 km) of lakefront, rendering the Chicago Park District the nation's largest municipal harbor system, along with 31 beaches, 17 historic lagoons, 86 pools, 90 playgrounds, 90 gardens, 66 fitness centers, nine ice skating rinks, 10 museums, a zoological park, and two plant conservatories.[6][7]

The Chicago Park District also maintains many special use facilities for activities such as golfing, boating, boxing, skating and baseball, as well as a number of specialty parks devoted entirely to dogs.[6] In addition to maintaining its parks and facilities, the Chicago Park District holds thousands of community, holiday, nature, sports, music, arts, and cultural events and festivals for city residents every year, many featuring performances and workshops provided by nationally recognized "Arts Partners" such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and "Arts Partners in Residence" such as the Citywide Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Park Theater Project, Beacon Street Gallery and Theater, Billy Goat Experimental Theatre Company, Chicago Dance Medium, Chicago Moving Company, Chicago Swordplay Guild, Free Street Programs, K-Theory, Kuumba Lynx, The Peace Museum, Pros Arts Studio, the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, and the Zephyr Dance Company.[8][9][10] The height of these events are during the summer months at the height of the tourist season while children are out of school for summer recess.[11]


The dominant theme in many of Chicago's park fieldhouses are variants of either Georgian or Classical Revival architecture. Clarence Hatzfeld, who designed many of the homes in Chicago's landmark Villa District is noted as the most prolific architect of Chicago park fieldhouses.

Similar to other areas of Chicago's built environment, a sizeable number of structures in Chicago's Parks are of exceptional architectural value. Portage Park and Jefferson Park are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and some like Pulaski Park are official landmarks of the City of Chicago.

Forest preserves

The green-space afforded by Chicago's parks is supplemented by the Cook County Forest Preserves, a separately administered network of open spaces containing forest, prairie, wetland, streams, and lakes, that are set aside as natural areas along the city's periphery.

List of parks

Portage Park Chicago Gate
The southwestern entrance into Portage Park at the intersection of Irving Park Rd. and Central Ave.
Buckingham fountai galleryfull
Buckingham Fountain, donated to Chicago in 1927 by Kate Buckingham
Kosciuszko Park is located by the intersection of Diversey and Pulaski.
Lincoln Park Beaver
A beaver at the North Pond in Lincoln Park

Notable parks

Arts Partners in Residence

Members of the Arts Partners provide quality cultural content to the parks of Chicago in exchange for the use of space within the park district. These Arts Partners include nationally recognized arts organizations serving park patrons and citizens of the public.


BuckinghamFountain ChicagoIL

Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park

Portage Park Chicago flagstone steps

Flagstone steps in Portage Park

Jackson Park Osaka Garden Chicago

Osaka Japanese Garden in Jackson Park

Jefferson Park in Chicago

Jefferson Park with a view of the fieldhouse designed by Clarence Hatzfeld

Lincoln Park Chicago 040124

Lincoln Park in winter

2005-10-13 2880x1920 chicago above millennium park

Millennium Park

Montrose Beach Chicago 060820

Montrose Beach

See also


  1. ^ One grave, the Couch Tomb, was never removed from the site and serves as a reminder of the park's past.


  1. ^ "City Park Facts: Total Parkland as Percent of City Land Area, FY 2011". The Trust for Public Land, Center for City Park Excellence. November 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "City Park Facts". The Trust for Public Land, Center for City Park Excellence. June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-19.
  4. ^ Macaluso, pp. 12–13
  5. ^ Gilfoyle, pp. 3–4
  6. ^ a b c "Parks & Facilities". Chicago Park District. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  7. ^ "Harbors". Chicago Park District. Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  8. ^ "Arts Partners in Residence". Chicago Park District. Archived from the original on 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  9. ^ "Events". Chicago Park District. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  10. ^ "Concerts in the Parks". Chicago Park District. Archived from the original on 2005-12-01. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  11. ^ "Calendar". Chicago Park District. Archived from the original on 2006-03-20. Retrieved 2010-01-31.


  • Gilfoyle, Timothy J. (2006). Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-29349-3.
  • Macaluso, Tony; Julia S. Bachrach & Neal Samors (2009). Sounds of Chicago's Lakefront: A Celebration Of The Grant Park Music Festival. Chicago's Book Press. ISBN 978-0-9797892-6-7.
  • Rand McNally "Chicago & Cook County StreetFinder", 1996.

External links

Addams/Medill Park

Addams/Medill Park is a public park in Chicago named after Jane Addams and Medill Elementary School. It is located in Little Italy.

Avondale Park (Chicago)

Avondale Park is a 1.7 acre park in the Avondale community area of North Side, Chicago, Illinois.

The park stretches between School Street to the south to the Kennedy Expressway to the north and east, with the alley behind Drake Street to the West. The park has recreational facilities including a playground, a fieldhouse, as well as an outdoor pool.

Calumet Park

Calumet Park is a 198-acre (79-hectare) park in Chicago, Illinois. It provides access to Lake Michigan from the East Side neighborhood on the city's Southeast Side. The park contains approximately 0.9 miles (1.5 km) of lake frontage from 95th Street to 102nd Street. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

The Chicago Lakefront Trail (LFT) is a 18.5-mile-long (29.8 km) partial shared use path for walking, jogging, and cycling, located along the western shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. The trail passes through and connects Chicago's four major lakefront parks along with various beaches and recreational amenities. It also serves as a route for bicycle commuters. On busy summer days 70,000 people use the trail.The LFT is located wholly within the Chicago city limits and spans from 7100 South/2560 East to 5800 North/1000 West. It is a dedicated-use path, although frequent intersections do pose a threat to path users. These intersections are clearly signed both to path users and motorists. From north to south, it runs through Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park, and Jackson Park.

Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District is the oldest and one of the largest park districts in the United States. As of 2016, there are over 600 parks included in the Chicago Park District as well as 27 beaches, several boat harbors, two botanic conservatories, a zoo, and 11 museums. The Chicago Park District also has more than over 230 field houses, 78 public pools, and dozens of sports and recreational facilities, with year-round programming. The district is an independent taxing authority as defined by Illinois State Statute and is considered a separate (or "sister") agency of the City of Chicago. The district's general superintendent and CEO, Michael P. Kelly, was appointed by the mayor of Chicago and confirmed by the board of commissioners in 2011. The district's headquarters are located in the Time-Life Building in the Streeterville neighborhood.

Chopin Park

Chopin Park is an 8-acre (32,000 m2) park located at 3420 North Long in the Portage Park community area of North Side, Chicago, Illinois.

The park stretches from Roscoe Street on the south to Cornelia Avenue to the north between Linder and Long avenues. The historic fieldhouse was designed by Albert A. Schwartz and contains an assembly hall with a stage and seven rooms, where many preschool and music classes take place. The park also offers a Park Kids after-school program that attracts local students.

Chopin Park is named after Frédéric Chopin, Poland's most famous pianist and composer. Portage Park has the largest Polish community in the Chicago Metropolitan Area according to the 2000 census. The area is the center of one of Chicago's "Polish Patches", Władysławowo, and the park is right across the street from St. Ladislaus Roman Catholic Church.

There are/were plans to erect a statue of Frédéric Chopin in Chopin Park for the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth in 2010. There are also plans to erect, along Chicago's lakefront, a full-scale replica of Wacław Szymanowski's Chopin Statue in Warsaw's Royal Baths Park.

Columbus Park (Chicago)

Columbus Park is a 135-acre (55 ha) park located on the far West Side of Chicago, Illinois in the Austin neighborhood. It is considered the finest work by landscape architect Jens Jensen and was consequently named a National Historic Landmark in 2003.

Dinah Washington Park

Dinah Washington Park is a park located at 8215 S. Euclid Avenue in the South Chicago community area of Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was named for singer and Chicago resident Dinah Washington. It is one of four Chicago Park District parks named after persons surnamed Washington (the others being Washington Park, Harold Washington Park and Washington Square Park). It is one of 40 Chicago Park District parks named after influential African Americans.The Chicago Park District purchased the vacant lot in 1972 with the help of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Douglas Park (Chicago)

Douglas Park is a large Chicago Park District park that serves as a cultural and community center on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is named after the U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Originally named South Park, its 173 acres (0.70 km2) are in the North Lawndale community area with an official address of 1401 S. Sacramento Drive.

Humboldt Park (Chicago park)

Humboldt Park is a 207-acre (84 ha) park located at 1400 North Sacramento Avenue on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois.

The park was named for Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist and botanist.

Jefferson Park (Chicago)

Jefferson Park is a 7-acre (2.8 ha) park in the Jefferson Park community area of Chicago, Illinois on the National Register of Historic Places.

Kelvyn Park

Kelvyn Park is located at 4438 W. Wrightwood Avenue in the Hermosa neighborhood of North Side, Chicago, Illinois. It is part of the Chicago Park District. Kelvyn Park High School is nearly adjacent to the park in Hermosa.

Midway Plaisance

The Midway Plaisance, known locally as the Midway, is a Chicago public park on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is one mile long by 220 yards wide and extends along 59th and 60th streets, joining Washington Park at its west end and Jackson Park at its east end. It divides the Hyde Park community area to the north from the Woodlawn community area to the south, 6 miles (10 km) south of the downtown "Loop", near Lake Michigan. Today, the Midway runs through the southern portion of the University of Chicago campus, with university and related buildings fronting it on both sides.

It early came to prominence when it hosted amusements at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, lending the name "Midway" to areas at county and state fairs with sideshows. Laid out with long vistas and avenues of trees at the start of the 20th century, the Midway in part followed the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the creators of New York City's famous Central Park, but without his design of creating a Venetian canal linking the lagoon systems of Jackson and Washington parks. Instead, the Midway is landscaped with a fosse or dry ditch where the canal would have been.

Later designers and artists added (or sought to add) their vision to the Midway. A pet project of the University of Chicago and almost a part of its campus, it has remained essentially a green area.

Museum Campus

Museum Campus is a 57-acre (23 ha) park in Chicago that sits alongside Lake Michigan in Grant Park and encompasses five of the city's most notable attractions: the Adler Planetarium, America's first planetarium; the Shedd Aquarium; the Field Museum of Natural History; Soldier Field, home of the NFL Chicago Bears football team; and the Lakeside Center of McCormick Place. Museum Campus sits adjacent to Northerly Island along the waterfront.

Northerly Island

Northerly Island is a 91-acre (37 ha) man-made peninsula along Chicago's Lake Michigan lakefront. The site of the Adler Planetarium, Northerly Island connects to the mainland through a narrow isthmus along Solidarity Drive. This street is dominated by Neoclassical sculptures of Tadeusz Kościuszko, Karel Havlíček Borovský and Copernicus. With the demolition of Meigs Field Airport, Northerly Island is now a part of the Museum Campus and has been converted into parkland. A semi-temporary concert venue, the Huntington Bank Pavilion, occupies part of the site of the former airport.

Palmer Park (Chicago)

Palmer Park is an urban park located at 201 E. 111th Street on the far South Side of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Washington Park (Chicago park)

Washington Park (formerly Western Division of South Park, also Park No. 21) is a 372-acre (1.5 km2) park between Cottage Grove Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive, (originally known as "Grand Boulevard") located at 5531 S. Martin Luther King Dr. in the Washington Park community area on the South Side of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois. It was named for President George Washington in 1880. Washington Park is the largest of four Chicago Park District parks named after persons surnamed Washington (the others are Dinah Washington Park, Harold Washington Park and Washington Square Park, Chicago). Located in the park is the DuSable Museum of African American History. This park was the proposed site of the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic swimming venue for Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Washington Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 20, 2004.

Wicker Park (Chicago park)

Wicker Park is a 4.03 acre public urban park in the Wicker Park neighborhood of the West Town community and West Side district, in Chicago, Illinois. It is named after Charles G. Wicker and Joel H. Wicker.

William W. Powers State Recreation Area

William W. Powers State Recreation Area is an Illinois state park administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on 580 acres (230 ha) in the Hegewisch community area of the City of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The area includes 419 acres (170 ha) of water in Wolf Lake that provides about 6 miles (10 km) of shoreline to fishermen. The park hosts about half a million visitors annually. The park contains numerous species, and is one of the most important biological sites in the Chicago region.

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