Grant Park (Chicago)

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Grant Park (originally Lake Park) is a large park (319 acres or 1.29 km²) in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois, United States. The park's most notable features are Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum Campus. Grant Park is frequently referred to as the city's front yard. It is bordered on the north by Randolph Street, on the south by Roosevelt Road, on the west by Michigan Avenue and on the east by Lake Michigan.

Contents

History

The original plans for the town of Chicago left the area east of Michigan Avenue unsubdivided and vacant, and purchasers of Michigan Avenue lots were promised that it would remain unoccupied. When the former Fort Dearborn became part of the townsite in 1839, the plan of the area east of Michigan Avenue south of Randolph was marked "Public ground. Forever to remain vacant of buildings."[1]

The city officially designated the land as a park on April 29, 1844, naming it Lake Park. When the Illinois Central Railroad was built into Chicago in 1852, it was permitted to enter along the lakefront on a causeway built just offshore. The resulting lagoon became stagnant, and was largely filled in 1871 with debris from the Great Chicago Fire. In 1896 the city began extending Grant Park into the lake with landfill.[2] On October 9, 1901, it was renamed Grant Park in honor of Galena, Illinois resident, American Civil War General and United States President Ulysses S. Grant.

The legal restrictions prohibiting any buildings in the park were ignored in the 1800s, as various civic buildings were sited there. Also, an early home field of the baseball club now known as the Chicago Cubs stood in the northwest corner of the park during the 1870s and 1880s. Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago proposed a cultural center, containing a library and two museums, as the centerpiece of the park. Chicago businessman Aaron Montgomery Ward ultimately fought four court battles, opposed by nearly every civic leader, to keep the park undeveloped. The one exception Ward consented to was for the Art Institute of Chicago, constructed in 1892. In the early 20th century, Grant Park was expanded with further landfill — much of it from the excavations of the Chicago Tunnel Company — and developed with a very formal landscape design by Edward Bennett. More landfill in the 1910s and 1920s provided sites for the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History, and Shedd Aquarium, which were linked together as the Museum Campus in 1998. In 2004, a section of northern Grant Park, previously occupied by Illinois Central railyards and parking lots, was built over and redeveloped as Millennium Park.

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