Washington Park - IL

WashingtonPark_feature_CPD_2011.jpg
Chicago, IL
United States
Washington Park - IL

This 372-acre, rectangular park was designed by Olmsted and Vaux in 1870 as part of the 1,055-acre South Park system, and is linked to Jackson Park via the Midway Plaisance. Located one mile inland from Lake Michigan, the flat, prairie terrain was transformed into a two-part park. The north end of the site - a large, pastoral meadow with grazing sheep originally known as the South Open Green - provides a mile-long uninterrupted view of open parkland. Groves of shade trees enclose and frame the meadow and add vertical interest to the prairie’s horizontality. In the southern end of the park, a large, Picturesque mere was excavated, punctuated with simple footbridges that span the water at its most narrow points. The excavated soil was recycled as a perimeter berm, running along the park’s eastern boundary, echoing a similar glacial ridge on the western side. Construction began in 1872 and was overseen by H.W.S. Cleveland. The park was renamed in honor of George Washington in 1881. In the 1880s, architect Daniel H. Burnham designed the limestone round stables and refectory, and in 1910 added the South Park Commission administrative headquarters (now the DuSable Museum of African-American History). Later park additions include a school at the north end and a playground on the mere’s peninsula. Lorado Taft’s Fountain of Time marks the transition from the Midway Plaisance to Washington Park.