Chicago Parks System
From The Standard Guide to Chicago For the Year 1891:
The Park System of Chicago was designed and is conducted upon an elaborate scale. In its entirety the area covered by the different parks and public squares within the city limits embraces 1,974.61 acres. This is exclusive of the ground covered by park boulevards. The Park System proper is divided into three divisions, each division being under the control of park commissioners, appointed by the governor of the state, upon recommendation of the judges of the courts of Cook county. Thus we have three boards: The South Park Commissioners, the West Park Commissioners, the North Park Commissioners. The parks under the supervision of these commissioners are maintained by direct tax upon the respective divisions of the city. Under control of the city government are a number of small parks, squares and “places,” which are maintained at the expense of the city treasury. The parks of Chicago form, with the boulevards as their connecting links, a chain around the city, both ends of which are anchored in Lake Michigan. Only a very few years ago complaint to the effect that the great parks of the city were too far removed from the people, and practically inaccessible to the very class whom they were intended to serve, was general. Now, however, they are becoming the nuclei around which populous districts are growing. In a few years, instead of being on the outskirts of the city, they will be breathing places in its interior. For the visitor, all the parks are within convenient reach. Cable lines or street cars will carry you to any of them at the uniform rate of five cents. Trains on the Illinois Central will take you to Jackson Park (South Park Station) and return for twenty-five cents. The great parks are grouped as follows:
AREA OF PARKS AND PUBLIC SQUARES.—Following are the parks and
public squares of the city, belonging to the municipality or under control
of the State Boards of Park Commissioners, with their area in acres:
Winter visitors will find the conservatories of the different parks among the most attractive sights in the city. These conservatories are open during all seasons, and are in charge of a skillful corps of gardeners, chosen by the several park boards. The Greenhouse at Lincoln Park Is upon the eve of entering a state of transition. A section of the new propagating houses is nearly completed, and the contract has been awarded for building the palm-house. The old palm-house is overcrowded. Among the curious things to be seen within its walls is a sago palm 100 years old that came from Mexico many years ago; a tree fern 15 feet high; a very large date palm, and a Carludonlco palmata in bloom. Mr. Stromback, the chief gardener, gives some interesting facts in reference to the water-lilies that have proven so attractive outdoors during the past summer. The large lily with the tub-like leaves, Victoria Regia, is annually raised from seed, a single pod having been known to contain 435 seeds. It is a night-bloomer, and the blossom is quite fragrant. Some of the other water-lilies are also night bloomers, while some open in day-time. The water in the basins in which they are grown flows from the engine-house nearby, after being heated to something like 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The managers of Lincoln Park have the honor of being the first to bring these wonderful lilies to Chicago. Fine collections of chrysanthemums, ferns, and orchids are seen here. More people visit Lincoln Park greenhouses than any of the others.
Nothing could excel the delicious sense of refined taste pervading the Conservatory at Washington Park, with its bank of chrysanthemums presenting a symphony in color, its aquarium half hidden beneath the delicately traced fern fronds that spring from the margin and gracefully bend and reflect in the mirrored surface, and its giant palms forming leafy frescades suggestive of tropical luxuriance and love making. That remarkable aquatic production, the water hyacinth, is cultivated here extensively, and the round balls are seen like Limniades, or, what are more generally known, ducks, swimming about in the basins on top of the water. Upon entering the greenhouse the large stock of diminutive variegated-leaved plants intended for next summer’s lawn decorations are observed in a room by themselves, laid off systematically in designs, so as to make a pretty display, thus utilizing a hitherto neglected agent for indoor ornamentation. In the cactus-room is a great assortment of that peculiar plant. A striking novelty in the palm-room is a plant from West Indies bearing an edible fruit. The fruit is said to be like honey, quite palatable and much sought by natives of the islands, but owing to the frailty of its rind it can not be successfully transported to this country. The outside covering resembles that of the American custard apple or pawpaw.
Decidedly the handsomest and costliest conservatory at any of the parks Is the new $50,000 edifice recently erected by the West Chicago Board of Commissioners at Douglas Park. The new building is filled with an immense quantity of rare plants. In the east wing is a large circular basin of water, in which are grown aquatic productions, including the Victoria Regia lily. Last summer this plant flourished in the basin in a way it has never been known to do before in the city, its leaves having reached the remarkable size of 7½ feet. Above the basin and ranged in a circle around the margin are suspended in baskets a splendid collection of that unique exotic, the pitcher plant, nearly all of them in bloom and no two alike.
An eucalyptus, growing in free ground indoors.measuring 47 feet in height, is one of the numerous attractive sights to be witnessed at the famous Humboldt Park Conservatory. The greenhouses at Humboldt are among the largest and handsomest to be found anywhere. At the threshold are caught glimpses of banks of color and vistas of verdure of the most entrancing character, and the air is richly perfumed by heliotrope, tuberose, and orange blossoms— a veritable paradise. In the palm room, the central plateau resembles a miniature tropical forest, and ranged around this are fern-covered and vine clad rockeries calculated to revive memories of dense woodlands. The fernery, a separate room, is, without doubt, one of the most artistic creations of the conservatory, being arranged to show to the best advantage thoselovely contrasts which are a prominent peculiarity in the foliage of this class of plants.
SOUTH PARKS.—Washington Park, Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance are known collectively and familiarly as “The South Parks.” The cost to the city of the ground which they cover was $3,208,000. They are as yet in their infancy, but even now they rank among the finest parks in the world
Take Illinois Central train foot Randolph, Van Buren, Sixteenth, Twenty-second, Twenty-seventh or Thirty-first streets, or Cottage Grove avenue cable line.
In 1869, the designers of New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, were hired to lay out the 1,055-acre park (which included the Midway Plaisance and Washington Park). However, their designs were not put into place at that time and Jackson Park remained untouched until Chicago was chosen to host the World’s Fair several years later. Known originally as South Park, the landscape had eastern and western divisions connected by a grand boulevard named the Midway Plaisance. The eastern division became known as Lake Park; however, in 1880 the commission asked the public to suggest official names for both the eastern and western divisions. The names Jackson and Washington were proposed. In the following year, Lake Park was renamed Jackson Park to honor Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), the seventh president of the United States. Jackson Park featured the first public golf course west of the Alleghenies, which opened in 1899.
Take State street or Cottage Grove avenue cable line, the former for Grand boulevard, the latter for Drexel boulevard entrance. Park phaetons convey visitors around Washington and Jackson parks, touching or stopping at all points of interest, for 25 cents per adult passenger: 15 cents for children. In 1869, the South Park Board of Commissioners identified more than 1,000 acres south of Chicago for a large park and boulevards that would connect it with downtown and the extant West Park System. Originally called South Park, the property was composed of eastern and western divisions, now bearing the names Jackson and Washington Parks and the Midway Plaisance. Paul Cornell, a Chicago real estate magnate, hired Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner, Calvert Vaux, to lay out the park in the 1870s. Their blueprints were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Olmsted designed the park to have two broad boulevards cutting through it, making it part of Chicago’s boulevard system. From Washington Park, one can take the Midway east to Jackson Park, Garfield Boulevard west to Chicago Midway International Airport, or Drexel Boulevard north to the central city.
Area, 185.87 acres, situated four miles directly west of the Court House; bounded by Madison st, on the south, Lake st. on the north, and running a mile and a half west from the head of Washington boulevard. This was formerly known as Central Park. The name was changed in memory of President Garfield. The lake in the center of the park covers an area of 17 acres. The park is extremely picturesque, the drives and promenades being laid out in the most enchanting manner. The boathouse is one of the finest to be seen in the park system. There is a handsome fountain here, the gift of Mrs. Mancel Talcott, and an artesian well which furnishes half the city with medicinal mineral water. It is 2,200 feet deep, and discharges at the rate of 150 gallons per minute. The water is recommended for anaemia, diseases of the stomach and kidneys, and rheumatic disorders. A magnificent museum of natural history is located here.
The city of Chicago officially designated the land east of Michigan Avenue as a park in 1844, calling it Lake Park. The park is bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, Michigan ave. blvd. on the west, Randolph st. on the north and Park Pl. on the south. The area of the park proper is forty-one acres. The Art Institute occupies a portion of this park. This is all made ground, having been recovered from the lake by filling in with the debris of the great fire. The city had promised its people that the park would remain public land, vacant, with no buildings. This promise, though tested, would hold, with the exception of the Art Institute being built in 1892. In 1901 the park was renamed Grant Park in honor of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Museum Campus was added to the park with more landfill, featuring the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History, and Shedd Aquarium.
Groveland and Woodlawn Parks
adjoin each other on Cottage Grove ave., near Thirty-third st ; take Cottage Grove ave. car. These parks were a gift from the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas Monument Square; area, 2.02 acres; situated on the lake shore, between Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth sts., and close to the two parks last mentioned. Take Illinois Central train to Thirty-fifth st. Here stands the mausoleum and monument to Stephen A. Douglas, a pretty little square from which a splendid view of Lake Michigan may be obtained.
Ellis Park ; area, 3.38 acres; situated four miles south of the Court House, between Vincennes and Cottage Grove aves., at Thirty-seventh st.
Area, 1.44 acres; situated at Thirty-seventh st. and Vincennes ave., which is surrounded by beautiful private residences; and a number of other smaller squares and parks farther to the south. West side :
Area. 5.5 acres ; situated between Adams st. on the south, Monroe st. on the north, Throop st. on the east and
Loomis st. on the west. Take Adams st. car to Center ave. or Madison st. cable line to Throop st.
Area, 4 acres ; situated between Gilpin pi. on the south, Macalister pi. on the north, Center ave. on the east, and Loomis st. on the west. Two miles from the Court House. Take Adams st. or West Taylor st. cars.
Take W. Twelfth st. or Ogden ave. cars. Garfield Park Take W. Madison st. cable or W. Lake st. cars.
Area, 200.62 acres; situated four miles northwest from the Court House : bounded on the north by W. North avenue : on the south by Augusta street; on the east by North California avenue, and on the west by N. Kedzie avenue. This is one of the prettiest of the West Side parks. It is laid out beautifully, has a charming lake, splendid avenues; is clothed in superb foliage, and in the summer season makes a magnificent display of flowers. Its conservatory is conducted admirably
Area, 14.3 acres; situated one and three-quarter miles directly west of the Court House; bounded by Warren avenue on the south, Lake street on the north, Ogden avenue on the east and Ashland avenue on the west. This park, one of the oldest in the city, only passed into the hands of the Park Commissioners a few years ago. Since then it has undergone many alterations and improvements. On the northeast corner of the park stands the headquarters of the West Park Board. The lake has recently been enlarged and rebedded; many unsightly mounds have been cut away, and every year will add to its attractiveness in the future. The portion of the park, through which Washington boulevard passes, is laid out in flower beds. This is one of the most popular West Side breathing places in the summer, and on Sundays it is usually crowded.
Formerly called Lakefront Park, the home of the Chicago White Stockings base-ball club from 1878-1885. After a new stadium was built on the west side, the land was pretty much a vacant lot and called Dearborn Park. In 1897 the Chicago Public Library was built here.
Take N. Clark or Wells st. cable line to main entrance ; take N. State st. cars to Lake Shore Drive entrance. Persons desiring to take other conveyances can make their selection from the hackney cabs, hansoms, coupes, etc., found at downtown stands. Carriage arrangements may be made by telephone with the various livery stables, by the hour or by the day.
Robinson Fire Map 1886
Volume 3, Plate 27
Oak Street Triangular Park
Lake Michigan, Lake Shore Drive, south of Lincoln Park
Area, 2.25 acres; situated between N. Clark st., Dearborn ave., Lafayette pi. and Washington pi. This is a popular resort for North siders who do not care to go as far as Lincoln Park, and for children.
Area, 4 acres ; situated in the triangle between Park, N. Robey and Fowler sts., three miles northwest from the Court House. Take Milwaukee ave. cable line.
There are other parks and squares not mentioned here, such as Campbell and Congress Parks, on the West Side, and Dearborn Park, on the South Side. The former has no attractions for the visitor. The latter is the site of the new Public Library bldg. Its area is 1.43 acres, and it is situated on Michigan ave., facing east, between Dearborn and Washington sts., opposite the north end of the Lake Front.
There. are a number of small but very- pretty parks scattered throughout the city, not under the control of the State Park Commissioners. These are maintained at the expense of the municipal government. Many of them, as a matter of fact, are of far more importance to the neighborhoods in which they are situated than the larger and more pretentious ones. Among these are the following:
On the South Side: Lake Park, known more familiarly as the Lake Front; bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, Michigan avenue boulevard on the west, Randolph street on the north and Park place on the south. From Randolph street to Madison has been vacant in the past; the space between Madison and Jackson has been covered with the B. & O. railroad passenger depot, the First Regiment Armory, Battery D Armory and the Inter-State Exposition buildings; and the space between Jackson street and Park place only has been improved as a park. The area of the park proper is forty-one acres. This is all made ground, having been recovered from the lake by filling in with the debris of the great fire. Lake Park has come into prominence of late by reason of its having been selected as the site of a portion of the Columbian Exposition. The park has been very popular with the business people of the South Side, not because of its attractions, but rather on account of the large area of free breathing space which it gives contiguous to the business center. Gromland o^nd-Woodlawn -gaxk^ adjoin each other on Cottage Grove avenue, near Thirty third street. Take Cottage Grove avenue car. These parks, together with the University grounds, which were opposite, were a gift from the Hon, Stephen A. Douglas. The University has been abandoned, and the buildings removed. The Dearborn Observatory, which was formerly attached to the University, has become a part of the Northwestern University at Evanston, the great telescope having been transferred to the care of that college by the trustees. Douglas Monument Square; area, 2.02 acres; situated on the Lake shore, between Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth streets, and close to the two parks last mentioned. Take Illinois Central train to Thirty fifth street. Here stands the mausoleum and monument to Stephen A.
Douglas, a pretty little square; from which a splendid view of Lake Michigan may be obtained. Ellis Park; area, 3.38 acres; situated four miles south of the Court House; between Vincennes and Cottage Grove avenues, at Thirty-seventh street. Aldine Square; area, 1.44 acres; situated at Thirty-seventh street and Vincennes avenue, which is surrounded by beautiful private residences, and a number of other smaller squares and parks, farther to the south.
West Side: Jefferson Park, area, 5.5 acres; situated between Adams street on the south, Monroe street on the north, Throop street on the east and Loomis street on the west. Take Adams street car to Centre avenue or Madison street cable line to Throop street. A beautiful and popular little park, with many attractive features, Vernon Park; area, 4 acres; situated between Gilpin place on the south, Macalister place on the north, Centre avenue on the east and Loomis street on the west. Two miles from the Court House, Take Adams street or West Taylor street cars. Wicker Park; area, 4 acres; situated in the triangle between Park, North Robey and Fowler streets; three miles northwest from the Court House. Take Milwaukee avenue cable line. North Side: Washington Square; area, 2.25 acres; situated between North Clark street. Dearborn avenue, Lafayette place and Washington place. This is a popular resort for North Siders who do not care to go as far as Lincoln Park, and for children.
Grant Park (formerly Lake Park)
Lake Park (later Grant Park)