WHERE CITY AND NATURE MEET: A HISTORY OF GRANT PARK
23 August 2018
Located right on the edge of Chicago’s iconic Grant Park, 1000M offers sweeping views of expansive green space. Nicknamed “Chicago’s front yard,” Grant Park houses landmarks and attractions including Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lakefront Trail, and Marinas and Harbors. It also includes well-known parks-within-the-Park, such as Millenium Park and Maggie Daley Park.
As a beloved part of the 1000M neighborhood, Grant Park has a rich history that dates back to the city’s infancy in the early 1800’s. As lakeside property was being developed, early planners marked a section of land as a public space, intended to be “public ground forever to remain vacant of buildings.” Shortly afterwards, the land was officially named Lake Park, though it quickly began to suffer lakefront erosion. As the Illinois Central Railroad was built in the 1850s, they agreed to build a breakwater to protect the area in exchange for permission for an offshore train trestle. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the area between the shore and the trestle was converted into a landfill for debris.
In 1901, the park was renamed Grant Park after Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States. As Daniel Burnham crafted his plan for the City of Chicago, he envisioned Grant Park as a formal landscape with museums and civic buildings. Aaron Montgomery Ward, the mail-order magnate, launched multiple lawsuits against the plan to protect the park’s openness. The Illinois Supreme Court eventually ruled in Ward’s favor, keeping the park clear of buildings with the exception of the Art Institute.
Eventually, the sites for the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium came together as Museum Campus, which was officially completed in 1998. During 2004, a north section of the park was converted and redeveloped into Millennium Park, solidifying Grant Park as a hub for culture, music, art and nature.
Be sure to check back on the Seek Beauty blog for more upcoming features on the local sites, restaurants and history that make the 1000M neighborhood so spectacular.