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Lily Pool

Chicago, IL

Features: What's Out There Weekend, Chicago, June 2011

Designed by Alfred Caldwell in the 1930s as an employee for the Chicago Park District, the 2.5-acre Lily Pool replaced a Victorian-era pool and garden. Constructed with Works Progress Administration funds, The landscape exemplifies Caldwell’s Prairie style, which poetically interprets the natural ecology of the American Midwest. Nestled into Lincoln Park, it is entered into through a low horizontal gateway made from wood and stratified stone. The lagoon evokes a glacial river cutting through limestone, with outcroppings symbolized by striated stonework and with an open-air wood and limestone pavilion that seems to float over the water’s edge. A native stone waterfall at the north end of the pond suggests the glacial river’s source. Caldwell’s trademark native plantings include irises, tall grasses, deciduous trees and shrubs. Gently-rolling stone paths serve as walkways through tree stands which include oak, hackberry, and hawthorn. A council ring sits in a clearing on a low wooded hill above the lagoon, and as with similar designs by Caldwell’s mentor Jens Jensen, serves as a space for communal interaction. In 2001, the Lily Pool was restored under the efforts of the Chicago Park  District and the Friends of Lincoln Park (now the Lincoln Park Conservancy). In 2002 it was named a Chicago Landmark, and in 2006 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

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