Jackson Park (Chicago)

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The Statue of the Republic in Jackson park is a replica of Daniel Chester French's The Republic, but is 1/3 the size of the original.

Jackson Park is a 500 acre (2 km²) park on Chicago's South Side, located at 6401 South Stony Island Avenue in the Woodlawn community area. It extends into the South Shore and Hyde Park community areas, bordering Lake Michigan and several South Side neighborhoods. Named for President Andrew Jackson, it is one of two Chicago Park District parks with the name Jackson, the other being Mahalia Jackson Park in the community area of Auburn Gresham on the far southwest side of Chicago.

Site of a world's fair[edit]

After the state legislature created the South Park Commission 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 (4.27 km2) 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 (see below). 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.

In 1890, Chicago won the honor of hosting the World's Columbian Exposition, and Jackson Park was selected as its site. Olmsted and Chicago's architect and planner, Daniel H. Burnham, laid out the fairgrounds. A team of architects and sculptors created the "White City" of plaster buildings and artworks in Beaux-Arts style. The historic World's Fair opened to visitors on May 1, 1893. After it closed six months later, the site was transformed back into parkland. Jackson Park featured the first public golf course west of the Alleghenies, which opened in 1899.[1]

Intervening years[edit]

During World War II, vandals severely damaged the Japanese Garden. The Chicago Park District waited for decades before considering repairing it. Eventually, the city of Osaka donated money for the refurbishment. During the Cold War, part of Jackson Park contained a Nike Surface-to-Air Missile site and the nearby "Point" was used as its radar station.[2]

The park today[edit]

Osaka Garden on Wooded Island
One of Jackson Parks' bird trails.
Jackson Park, "Japanese Garden", Chicago

Every structure from the World's Columbian Exposition was long ago destroyed by fire, demolished or moved elsewhere, except for the old Palace of Fine Arts, now the Museum of Science and Industry, the only fireproof building at the fair, which fell into disrepair and was rehabilitated with a $5 million grant in 1930 from Julius Rosenwald (President of Sears, Roebuck and Co.). The only other relic from the fair still in the same location is The Osaka Garden, a Japanese strolling garden. It was reconstructed on its original site on the Wooded Island after being vandalized during World War II. (By itself, the Wooded Island is considered one of "150 great places in Illinois" by the American Institute of Architects.[3]) The only other significant building that survived the fair is the Norway Pavilion, a building now preserved at a museum called "Little Norway" in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. "The Viking," a replica of the ancient Viking ship "The Gokstad", built at Framnes Shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway in 1892 and sailed across the Atlantic to the fair in 1893, is currently located at Good Templar Park in Geneva, Illinois. The full-scale replica of Columbus' flagship the Santa María rotted in the Jackson Park Yacht Basin (along Promontory Drive) near La Rabida. In May 1952, what was left of the rotting hulk was dismantled and dredged out of the Yacht Basin. The Art Institute of Chicago also occupies a building originally constructed for the Exposition, with the intent of housing the museum upon closing of the fair; this Exposition building is the only one not located in Jackson Park.

During the summer season for the Chicago Park District (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend), the 63rd Street beach and the adjacent Lake Michigan is a destination for beachgoers. The Beach House competes with the South Shore Cultural Center and Promontory Point as South Side beachfront special-use facilities in the Park District. The park also hosts the Chicago Landmark 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion, the 18-hole Jackson Park Golf Course, two walking trails, as well as two basketball courts.[4]

Jackson Park is connected by the Midway Plaisance to Washington Park (see Encyclopedia of Chicago Map). In accordance with a canal that Olmsted wanted built between the two parks, a long excavation was made on the Midway, but water has never been allowed in. It is connected to Grant Park by Burnham Park.

Jackson Park is home to over two dozen species of birds, including a well-studied population of feral Monk parakeets, descendants of pet birds that escaped in the 1960s.[5]

As a result of both a steady decline in the surrounding neighborhood as well as the closing of the lagoons' connection to the 59th Street inner harbor, the lagoons faced a serious decline. In recent years, the state and city have spent millions of dollars to revitalize the lagoons and Osaka gardens, and to restore the lagoons to their original grandeur. With the recent revitalization projects and the decision by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to stock them with fish, the lagoons have become a very popular local fishing spot.[citation needed]

Jackson Park Heights is a common neighborhood name for an area abutting Jackson Park. It received its name from a low ridge that once existed south of the present-day park.

Chicago Lakefront Trail[edit]

The Chicago Lakefront Trail (abbreviated as LFT) is an 18-mile multi-use path in Chicago, Illinois along the shore of Lake Michigan. It is popular with cyclists and joggers. From north to south, it runs through Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park and Jackson Park. (Chicago Park District Lakefront Trail Map)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 41°46′59″N 87°34′48″W / 41.783°N 87.58°W / 41.783; -87.58