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 ⅓ 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.[1]

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. In 1891, Jackson Park was selected as its site.[1] Olmsted and Chicago's architect and planner, Daniel H. Burnham with his partner John Wellborn Root, laid out the fairgrounds. A team of architects and sculptors created the "White City" of plaster buildings and artworks in Beaux-Arts style.[1] The historic World's Fair opened to visitors on May 1, 1893. It was Root's last project as he caught pneumonia and died in January 1891, two years before the fair's opening. After the fair closed, the site was transformed back into parkland as the fair buildings were not designed to be permanent structures.[2] Jackson Park featured the first public golf course west of the Alleghenies, which opened in 1899.[3]

Intervening years[edit]

Most of the park burned to the ground after the fair closed. A headline from January 9. 1894 read "HE WHITE CITY IN FLAMES; FIRE DESTROYS THE FAIREST OF THE BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS".[4] The Palace of Fine Arts decayed after the fair until it was reopened as the Museum of Science and Industry in 1933. Sears Roebuck Company CEO Julius Rosenwald donated the initial investment.[5] 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.[6]

The park today[edit]

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

While a comfort station and the North Pond Bridge, both of which date from the 1880s, are still in use, every structure built for 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.[7]) 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. Girders from fair structures were reused in the construction of Dunns Bridge and the Sugar Creek Chapel Bridge.

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.[8]

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.[9]

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 deteriorated. 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 Highlands is a City of Chicago landmarked neighborhood abutting Jackson Park. The names of over 75 well-know architects can be found on most of the one-of -a kind homes. 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)

The Osaka Garden[edit]

Originally created during the 1983 World’s Columbian Exposition, with a garden and a Japanese Ho-O Den (Phoenix Temple) for the government of Japan, as a pavilion for the exposition. The phoenix emblem, was a reference Chicago rising like the mythical firebird from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It was designed by Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. After the Fair, even as most of the Fair was burned or torn down, the garden and the Ho-O Den Pavilion remained intact.

In 1933 The government of Japan, constructed a traditional Nippon Tea House at the Century of Progress World's Fair and also created a garden on Wooded Island's northeast side and refurbished the Ho-O Den. After WW-II the buildings were destroyed by fire and the garden was abandoned In the city of Osaka became Chicago’s sister city, and one the  goals of the Sister Cities program became to revive the Japanese Garden in Jackson Park.

The Osaka Garden is located on the Wooded Island in Jackson Park. Jackson Park is located on Chicago’s south side It was known as Japanese Garden until 1995, when it was officially named the Osaka Garden. The Osaka Gardens Chicago was built in 1893 for the World's Columbian Exposition, and created to cement the ties of friendship between Chicago and Japan. Both Japan and Chicago have made contributions to the Osaka Garden, making it one of the many beautiful Chicago Parks

There is also a Koi Pond within the Osaka garden. The garden in itself is very peaceful, and the simplicity of the pond and the large fish swimming calmly inside provides a serene atmosphere.The stones within the park carry an old legend which says they are laid in a zigzag because evil spirits can only move in a straight line. So if you cross the stones, any evil spirits will just fall into the water.

The Kasuga Lantern is one of the lamps that survived from 1893. It takes its name from the Kasuga Shrine in Nara, Japan. The deer panel is one of the four traditional symbols, the others were a stag, the sun, and the moon, most of which are damaged.

The garden holds American plantings, but it also holds unique Japanese plants, usually found only in Japan. The theme of the Osaka Garden, from 1893 to the present, is peace. It holds a harmony of the peace and balance possible between countries and cultures, between nature and city. Its wandering, stone pathways are designed to encourage a sense of peace around and within its visitors.

The pavilion at the Osaka Garden

Possible site for Barack Obama Presidential Library[edit]

In 2014, Jackson Park became the focus for a possible site for the Barack Obama Presidential Library. Sonya Malunda from the office of civic engagement of the University of Chicago requested a meeting with Louise Mccurry, president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, to talk about the library.[10]


A non-profit organization called Project 120 began collaborating with the Chicago Park District in 2012 to restore Jackson Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted's vision of the park. The group's plans include improving the park's green space, creating a music pavilion, and creating a 'great lawn' for park goers to use for leisure activities. World renowned artist Yoko Ono will debut a new, permanent artwork called SKY LANDING in the Wooded Island on June 12, 2016.[11] Jackson Park already has a number of volunteers[12] that help maintain the park, but Project 120 aims to go beyond cleanup and plant maintenance. The total cost for Jackson Park's revamping is $8.1 million dollars.[13] Restoration will take five years to complete and another 25 years reach ecological maturity. Improving the park's green space and enhancing it's wildlife are meant to improve the appearance and popularity of a park that has been in decline.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Muccigrosso, Robert (1993). Celebrating the New World: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Ivan R. Dee. pp. 48–61. ISBN 1566630134. 
  2. ^ Harris, Neil (1993). Grand Illusions: Chicago's World's Fair of 1893. Chicago Historical Society. p. 3. ISBN 0913820180. 
  3. ^ http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/7ab82634-6f27-4d7a-b7e2-fb1820493f69.cfm
  4. ^ Howald Patton, Lindsey. "119 Years since 1893: A Visit to Jackson Park". The Driehaus Museum. Retrieved 10/7/2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ Wille, Lois (1972). Forever Open, Clear, and Free (Second ed.). The University of Chicago Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-226-89872-5. 
  6. ^ "ARADCOM, Nike Missile Site C-41, Promontory Point and Jackson Park, Chicago: 1955 - 1971.". Epperson, Michael. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  7. ^ "Wooded Island - Jackson Park". American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  8. ^ "Profile of the basketball court at Jackson Park".  courtsoftheworld.com
  9. ^ http://chicagowildernessmag.org/issues/winter2003/monkparakeets.html
  10. ^ Sam Cholke, "U. of C. Asks for Meeting About Putting the Obama Library in Jackson Park." DNAinfo November 11, 2014.http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20141111/hyde-park/u-of-c-asks-for-meeting-about-putting-obama-library-jackson-park
  11. ^ "SKY LANDING". Project 120 Chicago. Retrieved 10/7/2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. ^ Jackson Park Advisory Council http://www.jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org/volunteers/. Retrieved 10/7/2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Cholke, Sam; Schiffman Tufano, Lizzie (08/14/2014). "Park District OKs $8.1 Million in Habitat Restoration for Jackson Park". DNAInfo Chicago. Retrieved 10/7/2015.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)

External links[edit]

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