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The Chicago Traveler

Grant Park

by Matt B on April 21st, 2008

If you are visiting Chicago for any significant period of time, more than likely you will see Grant Park at some point. Also known as “Chicago’s front yard,” this huge park (319 acres or 1.29 km2) is located downtown between Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue.

grant park chicagoThe city officially designated the land as a park in 1844, when it was named Lake Park. It was renamed Grant Park in 1901, in honor of U.S. President Ulysses S Grant, a resident of Galena, IL. While the park had been deemed as “public ground forever to remain vacant of buildings”, several structures were planned for the area throughout the 19th century. Chicago businessman Aaron Montgomery Ward passionately fought on the people’s behalf for 20 years, wanting to keep the park natural and undeveloped. The only exception he granted was for the Art Institute of Chicago, built in 1892.

The park has been the site of several historical events, including clashes between the Chicago Police and protestors during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. It also hosted the championship celebrations for the Chicago Bulls and the 1979 visit of Pope John Paul II. Nowadays, Grant Park is the site of several of Chicago’s biggest festivals, including the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival, Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, Venetian Night, and more.

chicago marathon grant parkGrant Park’s most notable features are the Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, and the Museum Campus—a 10-acre (40,469 m2) addition to the southern end, which includes the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, and Shedd Aquarium. The park also features several walking and biking trails, a dozen tennis courts, and 16 softball fields. Programs include yoga, aerobics, and ice skating. The Daley Bicentennial Plaza at the north end of the park offers free locker rooms. Reservations for courts and fields should be made in advance (312-742-7650).

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Photo credit (via Flickr): Atelier Teee, jaymce, christopherdale, David Paul Ohmer

Grant Park: (map) 312-742-7648
Street parking difficult, pay lots available
Public trans: Bus # 1, 2, 3, X3, 4, X4, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 26, X28, 29, 36, 62, 126, 127, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151
Orange/Purple/Pink/Green/Brown Line train (Adams)
Red/Blue Line train (Monroe, Jackson)
Metra Electric/South Shore Line (Van Buren)

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POSTED IN: Architecture & Attractions, Museums, Sports and Recreation

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