Maggie Daley Park

Coordinates: 41°52′57″N 87°37′08″W / 41.88250°N 87.61889°W / 41.88250; -87.61889
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Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park in December 2014
TypeUrban park
LocationGrant Park
337 E. Randolph Street
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Coordinates41°52′57″N 87°37′08″W / 41.88250°N 87.61889°W / 41.88250; -87.61889
Area25 acres (100,000 m2)
Operated byChicago Park District
StatusOpen all year (daily 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.)
Public transit accessMillennium Station

Maggie Daley Park is a 20-acre (81,000 m2) public park in the Loop community area of Chicago operated by the Chicago Park District. It is near the Lake Michigan shoreline in northeastern Grant Park where Daley Bicentennial Plaza previously stood.[1][2] Maggie Daley Park, like its predecessor, is connected to Millennium Park by the BP Pedestrian Bridge.[3] Designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, the park had its ceremonial ribbon cutting on December 13, 2014, and is named for Maggie Daley, the former first lady of the city who died of cancer in 2011.[4][5] The park was almost entirely remade with multiple new features including a new field house, an ice skating ribbon, climbing walls, landscaping and children's playground. An older section of the park maintains a garden dedicated earlier to honor cancer survivors. The park is bounded by Randolph Street, Monroe, Columbus and Lake Shore Drives.[6] Construction took 2 years and cost $60 million, including rebuilding an underground parking lot.[3]

Approval process[edit]

Part of the area of the current park in 1993

On August 26, 2012, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced plans for the park where a hotly contested children's museum plan had previously been attempted.[7] In 2008, the Chicago City Council had approved a $100 million plan to build the Chicago Children's Museum on the space, but legal contentions were expected to drag on regarding the use of parkland for such a structure.[8]


Preparations for construction began with closures of elements like the Daley Bicentennial field house and areas fenced off in September 2012.[9] By November, the removal of 877 aged crab apple, magnolia, white ash, elm and other varieties of trees began.[10] There were two stated purposes for the tree removal: the removal of the trees and soil would facilitate the repair of the underground East Monroe Street Parking Garage roof; the removal of the trees would make way for a healthier park with a broader variety of plants that were less susceptible to diseases.[10]


Bloch Cancer Survivors Garden entrance with pergola and the 1905 Federal Building Columns

The park features a one-quarter-mile-long (0.40 km) ice skating ribbon, rock-climbing walls,[3] and courts for tennis and pickleball.[11][12] It includes three open lawn areas, a lawn panel, a café space, and picnic groves.[8] The northeast section retains the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Garden, which was laid out in 1996. The park was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architects for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.[13] The former Daley Bicentennial Plaza had included 12 tennis courts and Maggie Daley Park accommodates 6 replacement courts. The courts are in the far Northeastern corner known as Peanut Park.[14]

An additional feature of Maggie Daley Park is the Play Garden. Occupying 3 acres of Maggie Daley Park, the Play Garden is one of the many attractions within the park area. It is open from 6:00am–11:00pm, for children ages 12 and under.[15] It contains 6 different play areas, including: The Wave Lawn, The Harbor, The Watering Hole, The Slide Crater, The Enchanted Forest, and The Sea.

The Sea is an 8,500 square foot "play loop" [16] with several different entries, which features a large metal play ship and other interactive structures in the similar theme. It was designed for children ages 5–12.

The Enchanted Forest is a 3,590 square foot network of pathways. Overhead along the Enchanted Forest pathways are archways defined by upside-down trees, where major branches touch the ground at multiple points and a single trunk rises skyward. Within the Enchanted Forest is a Turning Stone, an upright stone that turns on its vertical axis, as well as a mirror maze (named Kaleidoscope).[16]

The Slide Crater within the Play Garden of Maggie Daley Park

The 12,000 square foot Slide Crater zone is entered on high from the Wave Lawn by means of the Tower Bridge, which is a suspension bridge elevated by two towers, one of which has two slides, the other a wealth of play features including knobs, flags, a viewing scope, and talk tubes.[16] Allegedly, there are reports that the slides in The Slide Crater are unsafe and have resulted in serious injuries. The Chicago Park District denies that the slides in the playground pose a particularly high risk. "Maggie Daley Park is one of the largest and busiest playgrounds in the city; since April, an estimated 400,000 people have visited the park's playground areas. While any injury sustained at a Chicago Park District facility is one too many, the rate of incident compared to the number of people that use the park is very low. The play equipment at Maggie Daley Park was carefully selected and designated for appropriate age groups and meets criteria set by the ASTM, an international standards organization, for Playground Equipment for Public Use. As for the alleged incident occurring on 4/5/15, we have reviewed officially submitted reports and have yet to match any to the incident described by Ms. Hayes."[17]

The Watering Hole is a 1,200 square foot animal-themed play space. It features several plastic animals, including a large whale and spouts for children to play in the water. It was designed for children ages 2–5.

The Harbor is for children ages two to five. It is 2,000ftsq in size. It features a boardwalk, three full-sized play boats, and is surrounded by the flora of the park. It is located between the swing areas of the park.

The Wave Lawn is a 16,530 square foot play area that cuts a swath through the center of the Play Garden.

A 10,000-square-foot (929.0 m2) restaurant is planned for the park, but was not expected to serve the park until its second year of operation.[18]


BP Pedestrian Bridge crosses Columbus Drive to connect Maggie Daley Park and Millennium Park
Park namesake Maggie Daley, the late wife of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (photographed in 2006)

Although the park initially had been planned as a pet-friendly zone, the decision was made to forbid dogs and other pets.[19] During construction, 900 mature trees were removed,[5] and 1000 young trees were planted.[3] Only 38 pre-existing trees were planned to survive the construction, while 160 of the removed trees were marked for recycling.[10]


  1. ^ Sfondeles, Tina (September 27, 2012). "Redeveloped Park to Be Named After Maggie Daley". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  2. ^ Haggerty, Ryan (August 25, 2012). "'World-Class Park' to Honor Maggie Daley, 'a World-Class Lady'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Bowean, Lolly & Vivanco, Leonor (December 8, 2014). "As Part of Maggie Daley Park Opens, Tension on Its Look, Cost". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Rodriguez, Meredith; Secter, Bob & Eltagouri, Marwa (December 13, 2014). "Hundreds Attend Maggie Daley Park Ribbon-Cutting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Rebik, Dana (December 13, 2014). "Maggie Daley Park's Skating Ribbon Opened Saturday". Chicago: WGN-TV. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  6. ^ Vivanco, Leonor (November 20, 2014). "Free Admission for Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon; $12 Skate Rental". RedEye. Chicago. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  7. ^ Haggerty, Ryan (August 26, 2012). "Corner of Grant Park to Be Named for Maggie Daley: Mayor, Ex-Mayor Make Announcement About 20-Acre Site to Open in 2015". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Northeast Corner of Grant Park to Be Renamed for Maggie Daley". Chicago: WBBM-TV. August 25, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  9. ^ Meyerson, Ben (September 19, 2012). "North Grant Park Construction Prep Begins: Daley Bicentennial Field House Closed Saturday, Fencing Likely to Be up by Oct. 1". Chicago Journal. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Bowean, Lolly (November 12, 2012). "Trees Being Cleared from a Corner of Grant Park: Construction of Maggie Daley Park Begins with Removal of 877 Trees". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  11. ^ "Tennis Courts". Chicago Park District. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  12. ^ "Play Pickleball at Maggie Daley Park". Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  13. ^ Bey, Lee (April 24, 2013). "With an Obama Library on the Horizon, George W. Bush Center Gets Dedicated this Week". Chicago: WBEZ-FM. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  14. ^ Vivanco, Leonor (October 8, 2014). "Tennis courts still planned for Peanut Park". RedEye. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  15. ^ Rodriguez, Meredith. "After 2 Years of Construction, Maggie Daley Park Opens." Chicago Tribune, 13 Dec 14.
  16. ^ a b c "Maggie Daley Play Garden." Maggie Daley Park. Chicago Park District, n.d.
  17. ^ Parker, Lisa, and Robin Green. "Growing Safety Concerns, Injuries Reported at Chicago Park." NBC Chicago. NBC Chicago, August 19, 2015.
  18. ^ Vivanco, Leonor (February 27, 2015). "Maggie Daley Park restaurant renderings revealed". RedEye. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  19. ^ "Park District Bans Dogs from Maggie Daley Park". Chicago: WMAQ-TV. December 11, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2015.

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