Humboldt Park (Chicago park)

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Humboldt Park
Humboldt Park Stables and Receptory.jpg
Humboldt Park (Chicago park) is located in Chicago metropolitan area
Humboldt Park (Chicago park)
Humboldt Park (Chicago park) is located in Illinois
Humboldt Park (Chicago park)
Humboldt Park (Chicago park) is located in the United States
Humboldt Park (Chicago park)
LocationRoughly bounded by N. Sacramento and Augusta Blvds., and N. Kedzie, North and N. California Aves. and W. Division St., Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°54′22″N 87°42′07″W / 41.906°N 87.702°W / 41.906; -87.702Coordinates: 41°54′22″N 87°42′07″W / 41.906°N 87.702°W / 41.906; -87.702
Area206.9 acres (83.7 ha)
MPSChicago Park District MPS
NRHP reference No.92000074[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 20, 1992
Designated CLNovember 13, 1996 and
February 6, 2008

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.


Pavilion in 1908
Aerial photo of the Field House and Refectory
Aerial photo of Humboldt Park's Boat House.

William Le Baron Jenney began developing the park in the 1870s, molding a flat prairie landscape into a "pleasure ground" with horse trails and a pair of lagoons. Originally named "North Park",[2] it opened to the public in 1877, but landscape architects such as Jens Jensen made significant additions to the park over the next few decades. Between 1905 and 1920, Jensen connected the two lagoons with a river, planted a rose garden, and built a fieldhouse, boathouse, and music pavilion.[3]

In 2018, the Chicago Park District and Chicago Parks Foundation partnered with the Garden Conservancy to improve the Jens Jensen Formal Garden. They rehabilitated the natural landscape and repaired deteriorating infrastructure, winning the 2018 Jens Jensen Award from the IL chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.[4]

The park played a prominent role in the past for Chicago's Polish community. The Polish Constitution Day Parade once traditionally terminated here at the Tadeusz Kosciuszko statue that was located here before it was moved to Solidarity Promenade on the lakefront Museum Campus in 1981. Additionally, pianist and Polish statesman Ignace Paderewski delivered a famous address where he rallied Chicagoans to the cause of a free and independent Poland.

From 2012 to 2014, Humboldt Park was the home of the punk rock–based music festival Riot Fest and Carnival. For 2015, the three-day music festival was met with opposition from Alderman Roberto Maldonado and local residents over the condition of the grass, lack of accessibility during and after the festival, and gentrification of the surrounding area. This led to the festival's relocation south to Douglass Park.

In 2019, an alligator was found at the park's lagoon, capturing much interest and media attention.

Landmark status[edit]

The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[5] The boathouse pavilion was named a Chicago Landmark on November 13, 1996.[6] The stables and receptory became a Chicago Landmark on February 6, 2008.[7]

Stable and receptory[edit]

Humboldt Park Field house and Refectory

The stable and receptory is a single building. It was built in 1895–1896 as a half-timbered German country house that combined Queen Anne revival features. The eclectic architecture also incorporated some neo-medieval and neo-romanesque details, like turrets and a Richardsonian courtyard porte-cochere.[2]

The Receptory was the visitor center and main building of the park. It included the park superintendent's office, first occupied by Jens Jensen. Visitors would park their carriages there.[2]

The rear portion of the building was the stable, with stalls for 16 horses. It is less ornate, but still features many roof dormers and a spire.[2]


Chicago's Puerto Rican community leased the stables – which is near Paseo Boricua – to house the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, which opened in 2009.[8]


Bison bronze sculpture, Formal Garden's east entrance
  • Near the boathouse stands a ten-foot-tall statue of Alexander von Humboldt. Sculpted by Felix Gorling and donated by Francis Dewes, the statue encompasses a globe, a twig in his right hand, a lizard atop a manuscript, and plants at his feet. These inclusions were to symbolize Humboldt's travels and role in establishing geophysics and physical geography sciences.[9]
  • At the east entrance to the park, a pair of bronze American bison face the gardens. The sculptor, Edward Kemeys, also known for the lions at the entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago, created the Bison for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.[9] The bronze reproductions of the Bison were created by Jules Bercham. They have been sitting in Humboldt Park's formal garden since 1915.[10]
  • The German American residents of Chicago commissioned to have a monument created of Fritz Reuter, a German novelist and political martyr.[11] The German American sculptor for this monument, Franz Engelsman had also originally created four relief plaques depicting Reuter's achievements that were placed at the base of the sculpture. However, they were stolen in the 1930s and never salvaged.[11]
  • The Statue of Leif Erikson is a bronze Viking sculpture set atop a granite boulder in Humboldt Park. Some believe Erikson to be the first European to discover North America. The Norwegian American community of Chicago commissioned the monument, which was sculpted by the Norwegian artist Sigvald Asbjørnsen.[12]

Additionally, the park was once home to the Tadeusz Kościuszko Monument by Kazimierz Chodzinski that was built thanks to funds raised by Chicago's Polish community and moved in 1981 to the city's lakefront.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division (2007). "Landmark Designation Report: Humboldt Park Receptory Building and Stable" (PDF). [The Receptory and Stable] is a visually-striking fusion of both building types: the visually-rich and diverse Queen Anne architectural style, combined with the "old Germans tyle of country house architecture," [...] and Medieval and Romanesque details made from eclectic building materials and textures
  3. ^ Scott Jacobs. "Humboldt Park Archived 2008-04-02 at the Wayback Machine". The Week Behind. June 4, 2004. Retrieved on June 8, 2008.
  4. ^ "Humboldt Park Formal Garden". ILASLA. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  5. ^ National Register of Historical Places in Cook County, IL. Retrieved on June 8, 2008.
  6. ^ Humboldt Park Boathouse Pavilion Archived 2008-06-22 at the Wayback Machine. City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division (2003). Retrieved on June 8, 2008.
  7. ^ "2009 Chicago Landmark Booklet" (PDF). Commission on Chicago Landmarks Div. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 20, 2009. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
  8. ^ "Home".
  9. ^ a b Graf, John (2000). Chicago's Parks. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 26–29. ISBN 0-7385-0716-4.
  10. ^ "World's Fair Bison (in Humboldt Park)". Archived from the original on June 15, 2010. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Fritz Reuter Monument". Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
  12. ^ "Early Chicago". Retrieved November 19, 2009.

External links[edit]