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Parks & Recreation

bike jump

The Chicago Park District is the largest city park and recreation system in Illinois — with over 220 facilities throughout the city, 7,300 acres of parkland, 552 parks, 33 beaches, nine museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs.

The first park in Chicago was designated in 1834 by the City Council — one year after the city of Chicago began its administration and three years before it was granted a charter. Dearborn Park was established on the site of Fort Dearborn to provide open spaces for the growing city.

As the acquisition and development of the parks progressed, Chicago provided recreation facilities and programming services in addition to setting aside land (an uncommon practice for cities of the time).

In 1909, architect Daniel Burnham outlined plans that called for 26 miles of lakefront to be used as a continuous system of parks connected by winding boulevards. By 1934, 22 separate park districts were incorporated in the city of Chicago. The Chicago Park District was officially created by an act of the Illinois legislature entitled the Park Consolidation Act.

Central Region
Garfield Park, 100 N. Central Park Avenue

Dedicated to Chicago’s west side parks, the Central Region manages 130 parks for diverse neighborhoods — including Austin, Bucktown, Lawndale and Pilsen. The boundaries extend north from Belmont Avenue; south from the south branch of the Chicago River; east from Halsted Street and west from the city limits.

Lakefront Region
Central Administration, 541 N. Fairbanks

The Lakefront Region is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the city’s 24 miles of Shoreline, 18 miles of lakefront trail, 48 lakefront parks, nine harbors and 31 beaches. Also included in this region is the museum campus, two golf driving ranges, Theater on the Lake, Buckingham Fountain, the Lincoln Park Zoo, a conservatory, three cultural centers and Soldier Field.

North Region
Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Avenue

The North Region is responsible for overseeing 190 parks and playgrounds for 26 communities from Edison Park to Near North. From Rogers Park to Portage Park, the North Region boundaries begin at the northern city limits and extend along the north branch of the Chicago River to Belmont Avenue.

South Region
Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Avenue

The South Region offers quality recreational and leisure opportunities at more than 100 parks and play lots. The South proudly features nearly 200 ball diamonds, four outdoor ice rinks, 18 outdoor pools 13, natatoriums, a 36-ft water slide, six racquetball and handball courts, and two gymnastic centers. The region serves Chicagoans from the lakefront west to the Englewood community, and from the southern city limits to the Prairie Avenue Historic District.

SOURCE: Chicago Park District

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