Back to Jackson Park Website home page
To Historic Preservation and Historic Preservation in Depth
Jackson Park Timeline

To Columbian Exposition (more, find in (ColumbianExp.htm)

Reflections on the History of Jackson Park
including some material on the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893

What's in this page or elsewhere in the website ("To"):

A Columbian Exposition mystery maybe you can solve? Brief essay on Columbus and JP

Note- in December 2017 a Section 106 Survey and Review of historic and archaelogical resources and impacts of proposed projects was launched. A NEPA environments review is also expected. Information-

("Lagoons" and "Osaka Garden" are the most chronologically-oriented page sections, in addition to the Timeline page.)

July 15, Sunday, 2 pm. “No Blacks in the White City? Frederick Douglass at the Haitian Pavilion: The Challenge to the Status Quo at the 1893… Fair.” Friends of the Parks will give a panel and tour starting at Hyde Park Historical Society 5529 S. Lake Park Ave. and including a tour in Jackson Park. Speakers are Prof. Christopher Reed PhD, Rebecca Graff, archaelogist, PhD and Courney S. Pierre-Cane, PhD. Space is limited. Register at

July 29, 2018 Sunday, 2 p.m. Author event at Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park. Robert J. Nelson, author of “Dirty Waters” and South Shore resident tells his experiences running Chicago’s harbors and golf courses under Mayors Washington and (early) Richard M. Daley.)

Free weekly tours of the White City resume Saturdays at 11 am, May - end of Oct. With Ray Johnson, Trish Morse, and others. Meet at the east side of the Darrow Bridge.

Special: PBS doc on Olmsted, Designing Americas Parks with extras is available on line Passed on by Madiem: We are pleased to let you know that “Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America,” a one-hour film, will be broadcast nationally on PBS on Friday, June 20 at 9:00 PM (check local listings.) Attached below you will find a pdf of the broadcast announcement, which we hope you will share with your friends via email and social media.We have produced six short bonus videos for the film, which you can see now on the PBS Olmsted website. We have also produced a twelve-minute film for the Library of American Landscape History, which also will be on the PBS site soon. The film is called “The Best Planned City in the World: Olmsted, Vaux and the Buffalo Park System.” It is part of the LALH “North American by Design” film series and it is available now on the LALH website, as are two other landscape architecture films. I’ve put the links to both sites below.
Olmsted Bonus Videos. Library of American Landscape History Short Films

Columbian Exposition on line? There are surprisingly few sites. A search of the sites of the Chicago Public Library (reach directly or via second citation below) and the Chicago Historical Society will bring up most. Visit the Columbian Exposition page for more.

A virtual-thesis tour, World's Columbian Exposition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath:

A Digital Library of the four chief Fair-era books on the World's Columbian Exposition, by Paul V. Galvin. If you have lots of memory, find it by name and open it.

Illinois Institute of Technology site.

Peter Nepstad has a CD/ROM game with a full navigation of the fairgrounds from historic views and photos, with descriptive text. Look in his site

Hyde Park Historical Society's Hyde Park History in 1994 issued an article on Chicago Day at the Fair (limited supply). Later at least two issues dealt with the great Ferris Wheel (and discovery of its foundations during construction of a skating rink), and on the Iowa Exposition Building and Granite Paved Beach--including a brilliant deduction that links the building and shoreline.

(Photography of the Fair was at least supposed to be a monopoly--maybe partly because private pictures revealed the messy side- we think littering is new?)

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Recommended book: Genius of Place, The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. By Justin Martin. Da Capo Press


What was on the site of where the Obama Library will be (60th-63rd, Stony to Cornell)?

Site of the Obama Presidential Center History (60th to 63rd, Stony Island to Cornell)

What was on the Jackson Park Obama Presidential Center site before?
Gary Ossewaarde rev. 8-14/16
Land speculators bought large swaths of the future park in the mid 19th century. It took a long time (1888) to extinguish all the claims after the land was designated for a park and bonds issued after 1869 and the Olmsted-Vaux plan drawn up in 1871. There was little development south of 59th St. for several years after the Chicago Fire. Olmsted conceived the west edge of the park (west of a drive that approximates what is now Cornell Dr. as for recreation and gateways, including a perennial garden south of 59th opposite the Midway just outside the site but surely a gateway to it.
Of course, there were several important buildings during the World’s Fair, including Transportation (partly off the southern edge of the site) and Horticulture buildings. Both were spectacular-- 5-acre Transportation expressing (vs. the "White City" Beaux Arts uniformity of Burnham, Sullivan's new Chicago School Americanist style in brilliant colors, a giant gilded Richardsonian arch, and repeating arch walls all around. Between Transportation and Horticulture was the Choral Hall, where Margaret Lang, - the first woman composer to have a piece played by an American symphony orchestra, conducted "Witichis".
Horticulture was a little under 5 acres with a giant center hall with 180-foot dome and a total of eight greenhouses, including one on each of the sides, each with its own cafe and with a veranda overlooking the gondolas on the lagoon. Horticulture attempted to assemble every kind of plant from around the world that would survive moving including 16,000 varieties of orchid, a Mexican desert and a Japanese garden. North of Horticulture was a statue of William Penn and the Fair hospital. Next was the Children's Building, which included the new ideas of kindergarten, children's playgrounds, and daycare. North of the site was conceived as a turning basin for a canal through the Midway to Washington Park, never built, then the women's building. (Note, it is believed that the Gymnasium build shortly after the fair was actually south of 63rd. And Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show was on the other side of Stony a bit south of the Midway during the Fair. The Midway brought together peoples and village replicas from all over the world and side shows.

1936 or a little later, creation of the long-planned perennial garden at 59th and Stony, designed by Betty McAdam, was realized. The large circular sunken garden was placed in an existing recessed circular lawn panel that in Olmsted's 1871 plan and the 1895 Plan was to hold a circular formal water basin. The surround wall and steps down were of stratified limestone and sets of shrubs surrounding the whole gave a sense of enclosure. It has been a point of pride of Park District staff and contractors to keep up this showcase garden.
1895 ,under Olmsted and Olmsted Plan, a large outdoor gymnasium was built at 63rd and Stony Island (probably south of 63rd). using gravel from Fair paths Basically what was proposed and built was a men's and a women's large outdoor oval gymnasia (like in Europe) with a playground between and all surrounded by running track that was quickly taken over by bicycles.
One can find by the Perennial Garden a plaque for the first cross-country automobile race (Chicago to Evanston and back) run in 1895 from that site.
By 1903 the site, and 4/5 of the park acreage was developed, probably including various ball fields east of Stony Island as today. This writer has not found a date for the comfort station that is now, along with a (poorly placed) playground, south of track.
1966> Cornell drive was redesigned and widened despite public protests.
Sometime before the Friends of the Parks map of the early 1980s tennis facilities were placed north of where the present track is (now gone it seems) and a ballfield at the ne corner of Hayes and Stony Island. However most of the site became degraded with trucks running over it and football equipment being dragged over it.
The first new track-and-field was built in 2000, including with funds from the NFL. In 2011 the present track and soccer field was built by Take the Field.
Otherwise, except for the ballfield at the south end of the site, nothing much else was there except nice trees.
However, there are several building foundations from the Columbian Exposition on the map of the 106 survey.

Landmarked and commemorated

The Park (and Midway Plaisance) were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The following are also City of Chicago Landmarks: Museum of Science and Industry, Statue of the Republic, and 63rd Street Beach House.

The next Jackson Park facility (after MSI (1970s?) and the Statue of the Republic) to enter the landmark designation process was the 63rd Bathing Pavilion. Final designation with final designation December 8, 2004. See in 63rd St. Bathing Pavilion. (The Museum of Science and Industry was designated in the 1970s. The Submarine U-505, the park, and Wooded Island have National Registry designation.) The Park District named the Upper Pavilion of the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion for Eric Hatchett, JPAC President in the 1990s who advocated for successful restoration of the Pavilion. The Museum and other parts of Jackson and Midway Plaisance are also parts of an Historic Boulevards District.

The current proposed inventory of historic features in Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance for the 2017-18 Section 106 Review.

1. Iowa Building.
2. Music Court Comfort Station.
3. Bowling Green Clubhouse.
4. Music Court Bridge.
5. East Bridge (Clarence Darrow).
6. Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago landmark).
7. Perennial Garden.
8. Cheney-Goode Memorial Bench.
9. 59th Street Viaduct.
10. Masaryk Monument. 11. Linne Monument.
12. English Comfort Station.
13. Japanese Garden.
14. Shelter/Comfort Station at Driving Range.
15. 59th Street Inlet Bridge.
16. Middle Bridge on Hayes Dr.
17. Southern Shore Yacht Club.
18. Coast Guard Station.
19. Statue of the Republic (Chicago Landmark).
20. Cecil Partee Golf Shelter.
21. Maintenance Building.
22. Jackson Park Field House.
23. Jackson Park Yacht Club.
24. La Rabida Children’s Hospital.
25. Golf Shelter (at 67th So Shore Dr. -Marquette). 26. South Haven (Animal) Bridge. 27. 63rd Street Beach House (Chicago Landmark).

15 of these are buildings and structures, 6 are bridges, and 4 are monuments.
In addition, the following Landscape Features are listed:

Circulation Roads and Paths.
Golf Course.
Berms and Sunken Lawn Panels.
Historic Walks and Balustrades.
Paved Granite Beach. Japanese Garden (also listed above).
Perennial Garden (also listed above), and
Naturalistic Designs including plantings and waterway systems, lagoons and Islands.

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MSI completes facade restorations

Herald, December 7, 2011

The Museum of Science and Industry recently completed a critcal masonry restoration project on its historic 1893 building with the help of a $400,000 grant from the Department of Interior; the National Park Service, through the Save America's Treasures (AAT) grant program [and] from President Barack Obama's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. "We are very grateful for this generous SAT grant, which has helped the Museum to continue the good stewardship of its beautiful and historic building," said Ed McDonald, the museum's director of facilities.

The museum was the only organization in Illinois, and one of 41 across the country, to receive an SAT grant in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. With these grant funds, which totaled $9.5 million, organizations and agencies are able to preserve the structures, places, documents, artistic works and artifacts that are deemed of significance to the nation.

The Museum of Science and Industry's building is the former Palace of Fine Arts from teh 1893 Worlds' Columbian Exposition. It is the only building left standing from the fairs' "White City" and is included within the Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance Historic Landmark District.

Protecting it for the enrichment of future generations is a top priority for the Museum, and MSI matched the grant funds to make the necessary repairs to the building's exterior masonry, which had suffered from deterioration due to Chicago's extreme weather. The areas of the musuem's highly decorative East and West Pavilions that were most exposed and had been the most affected include the carved limestone, cast stone and terra cotta elements at the East and West Pavilion dome drums and the marble panels replicated from the Parthenon in Athens.


Tribute to Frederick Douglass, Haitian Pavilion at Columbian Explosion installed

To page with full description and graphics with the monument installed in 2009.

For some years in the mid 2000s Barry Rapoport, then teacher at South Shore High School Small School for Leadership, led groups of students in marking off the footprint of the Haitian Pavilion at the Columbian Exposition and talking about the pavilion (first completed building, near where the Bowling Green is, southeast of the Museum and by Lake Shore Drive) and the role of Frederick Douglass there in giving speeches (including the first ceremonial speech) and informing the public. Mr. Rapoport has also made and used large puppets of Douglass and other notables of the time in the educational project at the site.

In his report on the project, Rapoport proposed a maker to Douglass and the Fair occasion at the site and markers at two other historic spots in Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance. The proposal for the Douglass marker was, with Council approval and advice and that of elected officials narrowed to a small boulder with incised text. The proposal was submitted with support to the Park District and a summit was held that has presumably led to recommendation to the CPD Board of Commissioners. Here is the notice from the Hyde Park Historical Society's Autumn 2007 Hyde Park History.

If all goes as planned, a collaborative effort between the School of Leadership of South Shore High School and the Chicago Park District will result in a commemorative marker honoring abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. Plans call for an engraved boulder to be installed near the present Lawn Bowling Court in Jackson Park just north of the 59th Street Harbor, the precise location of the Haitian Pavilion of the 1893 Columbian World Exposition. This project, which began more than two years ago, credits Douglass for his leadership and commitment to the quest for knowledge and will give Chicagoans a more inclusive historical perspective about the activities of this great leader.

Douglass, appointed the Minister-in-Charge of the Haitian Pavilion, gave the dedication address on January 2, 1893, Haitian Independence Day.

From final report and recommendations of the South Shore High Frederick Douglass/CPS-CPD park teaching project

In the Spring of 2005, during our Cross-Curricular Unit on Chicago, we… became aware that Frederick Douglass was a former slave, abolitionist, orator, statesman, Conductor for the Underground Railroad, journalist, and founder of the newspaper, The North Star: later known as The Frederick Douglass newspaper. Douglass also spent much time in Chicago where he lived in 1893 and was directly involved in a major Chicago event. For example:
1. Douglass gave the Dedication speech opening The Columbian Exposition on January 2, 1893, from the Haitian Pavilion located north of the Bowling Green.
2. We also learned that George Ferris designed and led a team that constructed the first ever Ferris wheel for the Fair.
3. We also became aware through an alumni survey that South Shore alumni are ignorant when it comes to many of the facts pertaining to Jackson Park.
4. We learned that many people who live in and around the park, both currently and those who have lived here in the past are largely unaware of the historical significance of the intellectual discussions raised in this park during the World’s Columbian Exposition.
5. And what a surprise it was to find out that the Museum of Science and Industry was The Fine Arts Palace, designed and built for the Columbian Exposition.

We would like to make three suggestions to support knowledge and awareness of the park. The suggestions are graphic and have been stimulated by the Project…

During the summer of ’05, I obtained letters of support for a school-park collaborative project from the Jackson Park Advisory council and from Alderman Hairston. The Chicago Park District also gave their approval for our proposed programming.

Throughout the year, ending in June 2006, we chalked the spot where Douglass was and entertained passersby. We had two students and three adults on site. We spoke with fishermen, pedestrians, bicyclists (if they stopped), joggers and the harbormaster as well as many of the boaters in the motorboat harbor. We had no complaints that we were aware of. Everyone recognized immediately, that what we were doing was a good thing. One of the participating students, absorbing the positive energy of the site, learned to juggle three juggling clubs. He could already juggle beanbags, but from beanbags to juggling clubs is a step not all jugglers make.

I am hopeful that the markings recommended to the Park will be approved, passed along and implemented.

It was great meeting so many wonderful people with each step on this project. It is my hope that seeds have been planted that will find fertile soil.

Thank you very much!
Barry Rapoport

Ed. The three recommended markings honoring sites at the Columbian Exposition are: 1) two boulders with plaques, like the one honoring Paul H. Douglas at Osaka Garden on Wooded Island—one on the spot where Frederick Douglass gave the inaugural address at the Haitian Pavilion and the other near the foundation site of the great Ferris Wheel on Midway Plaisance. 2) a sign on 57th Drive near the Museum of Science and Industry saying “Welcome to Jackson Park, Site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.” Top


More in Columbian Exposition page. Top

Completed: dig for the past in Jackson Park (done for now- program coming on this at Hyde Park Historical Society in December 2010), and an accidental find October 2006

Learn what they found: January 22, Saturday, 2 pm. Excavating the Columbian Exposition: Archeology in Jackson Park. By Rebecca Graff, U. of C. Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology. At Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park Avenue.

In late 2006 the Jackson Park Advisory Council heard from Rebecca Graff on her urban archeological digs in conjunction with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and of proposals to dig in Jackson Park, particularly Wooded Island--and dig seriously, not by accident as with the Germania finds in the southeast part of the park. After questions were answered, the council voted its support and asked her to return with a full description of what, where, how extensive and how long the dig would be. The support was clarified and confirmed at the January 8 meeting. Here is more information as provided in the Hyde Park Herald, February 7, 2007. (By Daniel J. Yovich)

Rebecca Graff digs history, and the University of Chicago anthropology graduate student hopes to find historical remnants from the World's Columbia[n] Exposition in Jackson Park.

Graff said she is reluctant to detail her project because her proposal for a limited excavation of the area is now under review by the Chicago Park District. However, at the Jan. 8 Jackson Park Advisory Council meting, the organization voted to support Graff's proposed urban anthropological excavation, which she hopes will shed some light on the life and times of those who visited and built the 1893 World's Fair and the years thereafter.

Graff has a personal connection with the project. The first job her immigrant great-grandfather had when he arrived from Russia in 1892 was as a laborer helping to build the complex and surrounding landscape for the fair.

"If we get permission for this project, we would hope to find some artifacts that can shed further light on how people lived at that time," Graff said. Graff, who has done similar research in other cities as part of her education, hopes to seek help for the project from local high schools. "This can be a great learning experience and ideally, if we get permission and if the timing of this works out, I'd love to partner with the local public schools, Graff said.

Hyde Park Historical Society and JPAC member Fran Vandervoort said the timing of Graff's proposed excavation may be fortuitous for lovers of Chicago's early planning history. Vandervoort notes that 2009 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Chicago Plan, better known as the Burnham Plan after its principal author, Daniel H. Burnham.

Considered by civil engineers as one of the most noted documents in the history of city planning, the Burnham Plan [included] a blueprint of a system of parks and broad avenues that transcended the Chicago street grid in a pattern reminiscent of t e French Baroque tradition favored for 19th-century Paris.

"So to find artifacts from the very late nineteenth and early twentieth century that has to do with the use of Chicago's parks from that time would be wonderful," Vandervoort said.

Should JP be selected for the Obama Library (60th to 63d at Stony Osland), the parts for construction would require reconnaisance.

Light-enhancing prism fragment found under uprooted tree in Wooded Island.

Following the storm in October 2006 that that uprooted or snapped off several trees in Jackson Park and many other parts of the South Side, bird watchers Leo and Caroline Herzenberg were inspecting damage when the note under an uprooted tree a wedge-shaped piece of glass with some stamped writing. Upon search of the internet and other research, they learned this was a fragment of the kind of glass blocks used to spread light and reduce need for hazardous artificial lighting in ships and underground warehouses. Frank Lloyd Wright held patents on similar such blocks. Patent marks showed this particular fragment was made in the late 1890s. How and when it got on the Island is not known. More information is in the January issue of Hyde Park Historical Society's quarterly publication. Visit for more information.



Rediscovering and resuscitating a park: the 1970s and 1980s

Jackson Park had become a rather dangerous and rundown place by the 1970s, caught between Park District neglect and gangs. Among those determined to turn things around were the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Ald. Leon Despres, and Doug Anderson. In 1971, the HPKCC held the first of a series of annual Wooded Island Festivals in the early fall. Activities included in various years, starting in 1973, Doug Anderson's bird walks, the only steam calliope in the Midwest, Chicago Children's Choir, Renaissance Ensemble under Howard Brown of the U of C, and the inimitable Darlene Blackburn and her Troupe. Weaving and clay, pottery, rock painting macrame, quilting, a trampoline from the YM, field games and runs, blood pressure screening, 1000 bulbs from the Garden Fair, and tours of the Perennial Garden were also featured. Unfortunately, the festivals ceased due in part to new problems with liability and insurance.

Desiring a more ongoing "people presence," Ald. Despres in 1973 asked Doug Anderson to start bird walks (with so much more), which were given several times a week in the old days, now after 30 years twice weekly March 26 (Paul Douglas's birthday) through the traditional New Year's day trek. Doug also lobbied successfully to have the Island designated a Nature Sanctuary named for U.S. Senator Paul H. Douglas and to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Doug also gives monthly Columbian Exposition tours for the Chicago Architecture Foundation May through October.

Gradually the Island and the Park became safe and popular again. In the early 1980s, the first of several rehabilitations of the Japanese Garden was undertaken at local, city, and international initiative--the Garden was renamed after donor Sister City Osaka, Japan. Meanwhile, a federal court consent decree in 1982 was supposed to guarantee more equitable Park District attention and resources for the park and led to establishment of a vigilant advisory council-- JPAC was the first, in (c. Nov.?) 1983. Also, new ideas, attention, and resources for nature sanctuaries as special places in the parks emerged.


Historic maps and views


Frederick Law Olmsted in later years, 1895, by John Singer Sargent Olmsted's plan for the "Eastern Division" (Jackson) 1880

Harpbr and lagoons section areal 1950, shortly before the fil-ins

Museum of Science and Industry sector 1950before the noth lawn became a parking lot.

Above: Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted by John Singer Sargent, 1895. Right: Plan in 1880 --note that the solid-color north part is all that was developed at that time and is the part most different from today except North Pond/Columbia Basin and North/Darrow Bridge. Next row: South-middle of the park and MSI and north part of the lagoons in 1950

Next is the post-Fair Olmsted & Olmsted 1895 plan and the much less formalized layout in the 1905 revision, considered by many the "historic template" of Jackson Park.

Finally, configuration of the middle of the park and lagoons as actualized by 1918 (South Lagoon = Inner Harbor).

1895 Olmsted, Olmsted and Vaux plan--considered the "template" by some

Above 1895, Below 1905

The 1905 revised plan, less formalist and considered by morre to be "The Template" for the park.

Middle of the park 1918, time of instalation of "Golden Lady" Schematic of the middle and southern park by 1918. X marks the location of the Golden Lady, dedicated that year.

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To The Republic statue landmarked

Jackson Park and Christopher Columbus

This hemisphere and Jackson Park would have been found by peoples from the Old World without Christopher Columbus, but the park would have been quite different without a Columbus connection. Park and surrounding neighborhood development were moving along slowly until coming-of-age Chicago and its movers pushed for the right to host the celebration of the fourth centenary of Columbus’ New World landing. The directorate of city and local business, civic, and landowning leaders sited the Columbian Exposition in largely undeveloped Jackson Park and the Midway and entrusted execution to Daniel Burnham’s and Frederick Law Olmsted’s team. The area filled up as thousands came to prepare the swamp-and-swale ground, build the Fair, build housing for the visitors and serve the same. The world’s peoples brought arts, sciences, engineering wonders—even contraries to the established story-Norse, Native American...

The Fair, and the new, adjacent University of Chicago, gave as much to the character of the park as did Olmsted’s original vision and design. His firm redesigned the park after the Fair, but elements are descended from the Fair, including lagoons and basins and the great museum. Of course, many features remained or are descended from pre-Fair, even pre-settlement times, including hundreds-years-old oak stands. And--as originally inspired Olmsted--Jackson remains a diversified, emergent-edge environment, not quite sure whether it belongs to lake and shore, prairie, or savanna.

But the Exposition honoring Columbus came at a cusp in developmental stages of Chicago, U.S., the park and its neighborhoods, and a world evolving into globalization. The Village came here!-exclusions and flaws and all. It drew a phenomenal proportion of Americans to the Chicago Summer. Take the time to read some of the books about the extraordinary complexities, triumphs and tragedies and the stories centered or reflected at the Fair. And watch for tours of the Fair footprint next year—with added docents for the many who come to Jackson Park to recall that formative moment. GMO

Columbus' ships and their reproductions at and after the Fair

The following is based largely on Joseph M. DiCola, "The Jackson Park Caravels" in the Summer, 2014 Chicago History.

As part of its contribution to the Fair, Spain undertook first a recreation of the Santa Maria to sail to the Fair and later also the Nina and Pina. A replica of the La Rabida Franciscan monastery, where Columbus awaited decision by Queen Isabella, would also be part of Spain's gift, intended to house relics of Columbus and of his time. La Carraca Arsenal at San Fernando was to be the naval shipyard where the ships were built. the commission guessed at construction, since in the 14th century there were no standard blueprints, ships being built for a particular purpose from tradition, and the only guide was Columbus's logbooks-- the originals of which were lost. There is a 16th century transcription by Fr. Bartholeme de las Casas. Santa Maria was inferred to be a carrack- built high in the water for long distances; Nina and Pinta were inferred to be caravels--broad-beamed with three masts rigged variously lateen (triangular slanted) and or square. Nina was lateen (caravel latina), Pinta square (caravel redonda). (Records indicate that in the Canaries Columbus re-rigged the Nina square to match the other two in crossing the Atlantic.) The Santa Maria reconstruction was built and launched, June 26, 1892, before the U.S. government ordered the other two ships-- built on the cheap utilizing existing hulls in the dying days of sail, and actually unseaworthy and towed across the Atlantic, only the Santa Maria was sailed. The Nina was incorrectly rigged lateen and the Pinta was not only rigged incorrectly but had a forecastle. They sailed in December? 1892.

And what of the originals? On December 24, 1892 just as Christmas Eve started off Hispaniola a perfect storm of complacency, fatigue (nearly everyone went to sleep) and miss-staffing the helm with an inexperienced boy converged with geography-- the Santa Maria slid onto a reef. Gradually the ship became nothing but salvage, and on January 2 was abandoned---until apparently rediscovered by a salvager in May 2014. The Pinta was lost to history after the end of the first voyage, March 15, 1493. The Nina was in the 2nd voyage fleet and the flagship on the return voyage. After a commercial voyage in which it was captured by and recovered from pirates, it was in the third voyage, and in 1501 sailed to South America-- and out of history.

And the anchor of the original flagship, (although its authenticity was circumstantial), brought to the replica of La Rabida Convent in Jackson Park for the Fair... In 1925 it was given to and put on display at the then-Chicago Historical Society. In 1992, it was delivered to the Dominican Republic's Fundacion La Isabela, the land where the Santa Maria sank.

For the replicas, stops were Tenefre in the Canaries, San Juan, Puerto Rica, and Havana, Cuba, Hampton Roads (where they starred in an international naval review, and in New York (where the Santa Maria was in the Columbian Naval Review). In the St. Lawrence they stopped at Quebec City and Montreal and then on to Toronto and Milwaukee, reaching Chicago on July 7, 1893, more than a year after the Santa Maria was launched, 147 days after leaving Spain, and more than two months after the Fair opened May 1.

The ships moored lined up in South Inlet/Pond (approximately the entrance of the modern Jackson Harbor) alongside the Agriculture Building and south of the Casino and opposite Promontory Circle with its replica of La Rabida. Fairgoers lined up to board the replicas throughout the Fair. Only once were te 3 ships sailed out into Lake Michigan.

The ships were oblivious to the salvage and fires that followed the closure of the Fair October 31, 1893 and continued to be popular and accepted visitors on board, especially pageants around Columbus Day. There is little record of maintenance (mainly breaking up ice around the ships) for the next 18 or so years. In 1911 there was a grand pageant centered around the ships and La Rabida with "Fr. Perez" welcoming re-enactors of Columbus and Ferdinand and Isabella to "Palos, Spain<" and "Columbus" and crew boarded the Santa Maria, which was towed to Grant Park for "landfall" (sailors discovering on the voyage a large hull leak). Mass was said at Holy Name Cathedral by Archbishop Quigley followed by a parade and banquet at the Auditorium.

August 1913 the three were sailed, destination to be the Panama-Pacific Exposition by way of the West Indies and Panama Canal. Nina and Pinta nearly foundered in Lake Erie and were towed back to Jackson Park. By the time the Santa Maria reached Boston, the plan was short on money, so there she stayed-- and the flock of visitors didn't show, so when she sailed homeward, the Canadians impounded her for debt-- the South Park Board settled and the Santa Maria arrived home July 23, 1918. Her state was deplorable, and despite appeals in the papers, care and maintenance remained sporadic.

In spring 1918, the Pinta's seams split and she sank to the bottom. February 7, 1919 the Nina burned to the waterline and sank. Later both were salvaged for the sake of the sailing lanes. In 1920, the Santa Maria was given a rebuild-- little more of the original was kept but the keel and metal fittings. By 1940 Santa Maria was deemed unsafe for visitors, and loose material (except the large and small cannon) including the anchors were donated to the then-Chicago Historical Society. C. 1946, the Jackson Park Yacht Club started a campaign for removal of the "eyesore"-- which many opposed. An assessment in 1948 deemed dredging and restoration too costly, and a fundraising campaign by the Knights of Columbus failed. April 3, 1952 a fire destroyed most of what hadn't sunk into the mud, and a month later the ship was destroyed and dredged out.

For more: Andrew Kaul, Jr. Official Guide: Historical Educational Cruise of the Santa Maria... Reading, PA, Eagle Pub., 1914. Jose Maria Marinez-Hidalgo, Columbus' Ships, Barre, MA, Barre Pub., 1966.

Viking ship

Remembering the 'Viking' of Jackson Park

2014 March. Friends of the Viking Ship presented to JPAC and Montgomery Place residents. The thorough presentation of history and the present museum and storage recounted ongoing securing of the conatinment museum, new exhibits, restoration work in progress and planned, and fundraising efforts and hopes for a permanent museum. More in Columbian Exposition page.
2012. Chicago Park District and the Friends of the Viking Ship seeking restoration and a permanent home for the Gokstad Viking Ship that was sailed to the Columbian Exposition was reached in August 2012. The restoration group will own the ship now in a park at Geneva, IL and be able to raise funds. Formal transfer will be made in a court of law. To learn more about the ship and project, contact Perry J. Gulbrandsen and visit
2014 - FOTVS's Lorraine Shaw gave an excellent illustrated history of the ship and accounting of stabilization work done and yet needed to the ship and its containment Museum, and search for a site for restoration and public display- March 10 2014 for JPAC and Montgomery Place Retirement Community. The ship is now under a plastic tent in the western suburbs.
Impressive Presenters. JPAC and Montgomery Place residents are most grateful to Friends of the Viking Ship ( and Raymond Johnson and friends of Friends of the White City ( and to our host, Montgomery Place, for detailed, elegant presentations at Montgomery Place Retirement Community on March 10.
The presentations were informative and elegant. We learned the history, sad subsequent neglect, and recent stabilization and hopes for this unique replica ship-- much with this ship and its journeys being unique. The Park District in August 2012 agreed to relinquish rights to the ship to Friends of Viking Ship. And we learned a not-so-good story about the ice house at the fair and the many firemen lost-- and that we can find the huge wooded statue of Columbus that was at the building, now at the Greater Chicago Firefighters Museum. Read more about the Viking Ship in Jackson Park History page and Columbian Exposition.

2012. Chicago Park District and the group seeking restoration and a permanent home for the Gokstad Viking Ship that was sailed to the Columbian Exposition was reached in August 2012. The restoration group will own the ship now in a park at Geneva, IL and be able to raise funds. Formal transfer will be made in a court of law. To learn more about the ship and project, contact Perry J. Gulbrandsen,

From the August 9, 2012 Sun-Times, by Lisa Donovan
A relic from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 is sailing into the hand sof new owners. On Wednesday, the Chicago Park District approved the transfer of a replica Viking ship displayed at the Chicago World's Fair to the nonprofit Friends of the Viking Ship-- organized for the sole purpose of restoring the vessel. the park district has owned the ship since the 1920s. The ship was built a hear before the World's Fair and is a relic of the 1,000-year-old Viking ship know as Gokstad, according to court records. Perry L. Gulbrandsen a retired judge who is part of the nonprofit group's efforts to restore the vessel, said the ship is part of h is and other Norwegian American's "heritage" adn "DNA." He explained that 11 men and a captain sailed the replica ship--measuring 70 feet long by 16.5 feet wide -- across the Atlantic in 1892 to display it at the fair. Court records not that the route into the United States included the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. The ship was donated to the park district in the 1920s, according to city officials. Little more than a decade later, park officials began trying to find a home for it. For many years, it sat at the Lincoln Park Zoo. In the 1990s, th ship was donated to a nonprofit group that moved it to Geneva. The group remains there - covered and protected, gulbrandsen said. Gulbrandsen said it will be costly to restore and move it- more than $415,00- but fund-raising is starting.

2009 update by Gary Ossewaarde: OF INTEREST: Landmarks Illinois’ Cornerstone reports that the replica Viking ship Gokstad that was sailed to the Columbian Exposition has been re-sheltered, re-supported and given repair stabilization in Geneva, IL’s Good Templar Park by Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley. The ship placed 2nd in a 2007 public voting grant challenge by Chicagoland Partners in Preservation/National Trust/American Express and the restoration won a Driehaus Award in 2009 from Landmarks Illinois.

From the November 2009 Landmarks Illinois CornerStone, p 4:

Driehaus Award for Advocacy, Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley, Geneva

A Viking ship replica, a gift from Norway during the 1893 Worlds' Columbian Exposition, sailed across the Atlantic and served as a major attraction during the fair. For many years, the ship was in dry dock in Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo but it was eventually relocated to its current site in Geneva's Good Templar Park during the mid-1990s. After more than a century of exposure to the elements and numerous relocations, the ship was in need of a more permanent preservation solution. In the winter of 2006-07, the Viking ship was named to both the Fox Valley and Landmarks Illinois' statewide list of endangered historic resources. Soon afterwards, the ship was selected as one of 25 candidates to compete in the Chicagoland Partners in Preservation Grant challenge, which was co-sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The online voting process lasted four weeks and prompted a creative "Get out the Vote" campaign by this local grassroots organization. Finishing in 2nd place, the Viking Ship stabilization effort was awarded 100% of the requested $52,000, which has been used to rebuild the structural support system, repair cracks in the wood, and provide a secure shelter and viewing platform for the vessel. The [Driehaus Award of Landmarks Illinois] jury remarked that "without the work of the Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley, the fate of this rare and invaluable historic resource would still be in jeopardy."

From 2003 and 2006: by Gary Ossewaarde

JPAC was told that various organizations, Mainly Norwegian American) have raised monies already and expect to make an announcement. In July 2006, the Director of Planning for the Park District informed JPAC that being explored is Museum of Science and Industry receiving, restoring, and exhibiting the Viking Ship. (They did not want it; the foundation to which the ship was transferred continues to raise funds whie the ship is semi-covered in the suburbs.)

Among supporters are local and national Norwegian organizations. At a (April?) 2003 meeting, JPAC resolved to ask the Museum of Science and Industry to provide a home for the ship in light of their mutual association with the Columbian Exposition and the history and technology of sailing and since the Museum already has parts of the ship.


Hyde Park Herald, March 26, 2003, by Peter Nepstad

About an hour's drive west of Chicago, in a private park, sits a 110-year-old wooden ship that once made headlines around the world. The flimsy tarp that protected it from the elements has been blown aside by strong winds, and rain now freely pounds against the exposed wood. It is only a matter of time until the ship is damaged beyond repair. But in its current location, few people will even note its disappearance; many believe it is gone already.

It wasn't always this way.

The story of the ship is a long one that goes back to 1880, to Gokstad, Norway, and the discovery of a Viking war vessel unearthed from a burial mound. The Gokstad, as it was called, was built around 890 and was in remarkable shape. It provided the first tangible evidence that the Vikings had built ships capable of traveling to the New World.

But the proof would have to wait for a Norwegian named Magnus Andersen who decided that a replica of a Viking ship should be sailed across the Alt antic, as a counterpoint to the World Exhibition that would be held in America in 1893 to honor Columbus. He later recalled, "As I thought this over more closely, I found the idea more and more attractive. That Leif Erikson had been in America before Columbus had been clearly proved but was not commonly known either in America or elsewhere, not even Norway...".

The replica of the Gokstad was funded by popular subscription and completed in time for the Exposition. It was decorated with a silk banner embroidered with ravens. The ship itself was christened "The Raven," but American popular press quickly named it, "The Viking." Magnus Andersen was the Captain.

The Viking sailed from Bergen, Norway and reached Newfoundland four weeks later. The crew, uncertain how the ship would handle on the open seas, found it had exceeded all expectations. "We noted with admiration the ship's graceful movements," Andersen later wrote.

From Newfoundland, Viking headed south to New York, then sailed into the Great Lakes. Carter Harrison, Chicago's four-term mayor, boarded and took command for the last leg of the voyage, arriving at Jackson Park on Wednesday, July 12, 1893 to much fanfare. Magnus Andersen had turned his dreams into reality.

The Viking moored at Jackson Park for the remainder of the fair. Afterwards, the Captain piloted it through the ILM canal to the Mississippi River, all the way to New Orleans--the only seafaring vessel ever to do so.

The ship was brought back to Chicago and stored in the Field Columbian Museum until 1919, when it was restored and placed in Lincoln Park. In 1933, Magnus Andersen repeated his historic voyage in a modern freighter to appear at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition.

The ship sat in Lincoln Park right up until the 1970's. Covered by a roof and enclosed by a chain-link fence, it sat outside in the blistering heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter until the wood seems more akin to steel than anything else. Time had taken its toll on the Viking.

The Chicago Park District, without the funds to do a proper restoration, sold the ship for $1 to the American Scandinavian Council, which promised to raise the necessary funds, estimated at $12 million dollars, to restore the historic vessel.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But the funds were never successfully raised, and no preservation or restoration has been done. Unfortunately, the ship was also moved out of Lincoln Park, and has been out of the public eye for nearly thirty years. Now it sits in Good Templar Park, a private park located in Geneva, IL, and closed to the public for much of the year. And the careful work of keeping it dry for the past fifty or so years is being undone by a temporary shelter that no longer keeps off the rain.

It seems unbelievable that the historic vessel has ended up in this condition. But the situation is not entirely without hope. Ownership may have reverted to the Chicago Park District. And all parties are now seeking a new, permanent location. Cook County Commissioner Carl Hansen, a long time advocate of the project, describes all parties as committed to saving the ship and giving it a new home where everyone can enjoy this part of their cultural heritage. "We are looking for a permanent location for the ship, before we try again to preserve it," Hansen said. "We've all learned the hard way how hard it is to raise funds for something when no one knows whet will happen to it once it is finished."

Nothing has been decided yet, and discussions for a new home for the Viking are still underway. Among the possibilities: the Museum of Science and Industry, housed in the last remaining World's Fair building still located in Jackson Park. Perhaps someday soon, the Viking will once again set sail, and return to the place that has always been its only true destination.

This is one of a series of articles being published monthly through a collaboration of the Herald with the Hyde Park Historical Society.

Peter Nepstad has studied the 1893 World's Fair for the past four years to develop a CC-ROM adventure game called "1893: A World's Fair Mystery" which can be ordered on line at

[March 29, 2003] at 1:00 p.m. Peter Nepstad and Douglas Anderson [appeared] at the Hyde Park Historical Society [5529 S. Lake Park] for a presentation on the Columbian Exposition followed by a related tour through the Wooded Island.

The Viking ship sailed to the Col. Exposition and as today in Geneva, IL

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After the Fair

The Olmsted sons' firm redesigned the park after the Exposition and it underwent a number of facility additions and reconstructions between 1894 and 1905, with more additions later. Remains from before the Fair included: The prior comfort station part of the Iowa pavilion at the northeast corner and slowly subsiding granite paver strolling beaches. Of Fair vintage the Palace of Fine Arts (Field Columbian Museum) south of 57th Street; and the North (later Darrow) bridge to the south; the"Rhine Castle" German building near 63rd not far from shore with a restaurant until demolished in 1925 and old steamboat piers nearby. The LaRabida Convent replica on Promontory Circle (not the present Hospital further south), and in the Harbor replicas of Columbus' Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria that you could board until they went to the San Francisco Exposition of 1915--only the Santa Maria later came back, and it burned in 1939. The three Japanese temple buildings at what is now Osaka Garden on Wooded Island, and the historic Cahokia Courthouse (later returned downstate). New constructions and additions are detailed by year in the Timeline page.

In the early decades of the century, people enjoyed buggy and auto rides through the park (traffic was very light), picnics, strolling the granite-paved beaches and piers, visiting or snacking/dining at the remaining amenities of the fair, rowing off shore or around the lagoons (which grew much larger that before or later) and Columbia Basin (there were boat houses), skating the lagoons (there was a warming house) and Basin in winter, strolling (in winter snowshoeing) on or around Wooded Island and its Japanese temple-gardens and the Rose Garden (established in ? or remaining from the Exposition?) until the 1950s-and now as a partly wild, partly specially planted tallgrass prairie still the best place for birding. Wonderful bridges were built of stone. The Field Columbian Museum was highly popular as was the later Museum of Science and Industry which replaced the Field in the building under patronage of Julius Rosenwald of Sears, Roebuck. From the 1890s were a 9-hole as well as 18-hole golf course and a track south of where the bowling green would be built in 1927 (southeast of the Museum). Other sport fields and courts were built.


The U-505 WWII captured Submarine and its move

To Submarine page

The 'Iowa' building and plans to display Columbian Exposition Germania monument remnants there (on hold)

Visit the Iowa page.

'Iowa' bldg. 'Iowa' bldg.

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Jackson Park Lagoons

Lagoon Restoration Project and to sub pages, maps

The Boardwalk-Nature Walk Project

and photo gallery

History and background

The vision of Frederick Law Olmsted

At the lagoons in autumn. George RumseyLagoons were proposed by park designer Frederick Law Olmsted in his 1871 Plan and took their approximate modern shape, under Olmsted's direction, during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The Lagoons surrounded the Wooded Island, which served as a respite for fairgoers and housed a wonderful Japanese pavilion (placed there against Olmsted’s wishes).

Olmsted planted a distinctive palette of aquatic and shore plants in the lagoons, including lily pads and cattails, and created a grand vista graced with willows when one looked from the north bridge south of the Palace of Fine Arts. Olmsted's idea from the start was that boaters would progress from the Lake and harbors (and you could until the 1950's) through the wild splendor of the lagoons and down the (never realized) Venetian canal in Midway Plaisance to Washington Park’s lagoons and pastoral Great Meadow. Olmsted’s sons redesigned the lagoons in the decade after the Fair.

Below: major sections of the lagoons as refined by Olmsted in 1880, in 1918 and 1950, before the southern end was filled in circulation patterns broken, and as proposed for rehabilitation in 2001. Consult also, at head of page, the post-Fair 1895 plan and the 1905 revised version, sometimes considered the historic template.

Lagoons as envisioned 1889 Lagoons in 1950, partially shrunken by before the big fill in for the Nike bases
X marks the replica Statue of the Republic, 1918, lanmared 2003.  Bathing Pavilion 1919, to be landmarked 2004 o r 05, is to east northeast. The lagoons are at their ful extent. Lagoons as in 2000 before island and shore restoration and construction. See old template of Music Court in northeast.

Over the years, the water quality, plants, and edge deteriorated, islets eroded or became submerged due to fluctuating lake levels and rain regimes. The lagoons became dumping grounds for everything from highway and other construction debris to tires, and even a safe and water fountain. In the 1930’s, federal works projects straightened edges and filled in embayments. The southeast lagoon and its connection to the Inner Harbor were filled in to accommodate the Nike missile base in a sort of dry land for wetland swap. Connections to the Inner Harbor and 59th Street Marina were severed.

Looking south from Darrow and Wooded Island North Bridges, and southeast to the North Bridge from new observation/fishing pier. By Gary Ossewaarde. Autumn picture above by George Rumsey. Below by Gary Ossewaarde

Expanse of the  East Lagoon from Darrow Bridge East Lagoon and shore from North Bridge to Wooded Island
West Lagoon to Wooded Island North Bridge from the new overlook View from North Bridge as above on rainy day


Having an essentially closed circulation now, the lagoons deteriorated further. The lagoons have only 20% of the rain watershed needed to be self-sustaining and self-cleansing, needing as much as a foot acre of water a day to maintain their level. Algal blooms are a problem and a symptom. Also, non-native, invasive plants took over much of the shore and islets. Through all this, the lagoons, islands and shores continued to attract hosts of resident and migratory birds and is one of the finest places to see birds of the Great Lakes Flyway. (In the Birding at Jackson Park page, there is a list of birds you are likely to see in Jackson Park’s the natural areas.)

New opportunity and new choices

Reconstructed, replanted and temporarily protected East Lagoon shore from Darrow Bridge Across East Lagoon from Osaka Garden

2002 South from Darrow Bridge: new stone pier; mat protects new plants. East Lagoon restored shore from Osaka Garden

A state grant of $250, 000 was secured by State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie just as the Chicago Park District and City of Chicago undertook a new commitment to restore lagoons throughout the park system. The result is a $3.5 million Jackson Park project. Elizabeth Koreman became project manager for the District. Prime contractors included Schaefges Brothers and Madden. Clauss Brothers undertook collateral work in Osaka Garden in 2002. Contributing also were staff of the Park District’s Department of Natural Resources including Mary Van Haaften and JPAC’s Nature Committee, chaired by Ross Petersen and including Doug Anderson. For reports on the project and its objectives, see the links at top of page. Although there were miscalculations and controversies, the results were generally on target, although it will take years to bring back the full range of wildlife and unless tended the emergent plantings could be lost. A more recent problem is milfoil invasion.

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Story of the lost Old Oak, with historic context

Osaka Japanese Garden on Jackson Park's Wooded Island

Osaka Garden home page with pics, sub pages and photo gallery page

Osaka Garden locator and parking map

Osaka Garden is located on Wooded Island (Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary) in Jackson Park. Due to Lake Shore Drive construction and construction of a new home for the Museum's submarine, you can only enter from 58th and keeping left to park in the Music Court lot (P-2 on map) by coming north on Lake Shore Drive from Hayes Drive (6300). If you park in the Music Court lot, walk west over the Clarence Darrow Bridge (where Columbia Basin south of the Museum meets the lagoons) and continue southwest to the North Bridge. The Garden is a short walk south, to your left.

You can also walk to the North Bridge from Cornell Drive (to the west), or park in the Museum Garage ($) (P1) and do this or take Hayes Drive and turn north east of Cornell to park in the lot (P3) and walk north through Wooded Island--but that is a fair walk although thoroughly enjoyable.

Osaka Garden started with building up the natural oak savannah sandbar known as Wooded Island for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and building a Japanese garden and Ho-o-den (Phoenix Temple) for the government of Japan as its pavilion for the Exposition. This was located on the southwest corner of the Island, with a living village of Japanese workmen. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was at first reluctant to have a formal garden and temple because he conceived the island as a rustic resting spot from the bustle of the Fair. But the pavilion was highly popular and helped introduce Americans to Japanese culture, religion, arts, and architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of several architects influenced by the pavilion, but the impact on him was arguably transformational (and influenced his decorative arts also). Today, the local Frank Lloyd Wright and architectural organizations, including Wright Plus, co-sponsor the annual Osaka Garden Festival and give occasional tours of the garden.

After the Fair, the Ho-o-den remained after most of the rest of the Fair perished. Today, one special lantern is probably the only original furnishing that remains.

In 1933, the government of Japan constructed a traditional Nippon Tea House at the Century of Progress World's Fair on Chicago's near /mid-south lakefront. The Tea House was moved in 1935 to Wooded Island, near the Ho-o-den, and a traditional Japanese Garden was built thanks again to Japan. The structures burned in 1946. Gradually the site and Wooded Island became neglected and unsafe.

A rebirth was sparked by two events in 1973. Chicago formed a Sister City relationship with the city of Osaka, Japan. (The relationship really went back to 1956.) One of the goals of the Sister Cities program was to revive the Japanese Garden in Jackson Park. In that year also, Alderman Leon Despres persuaded Douglas Anderson to begin his now renowned bird walks on the Island and surrounding natural area in Jackson Park, in part to reclaim them for birders and the communities of Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and South Shore. Gradually, thanks in good measure to Doug and to picnics/People in the Park events held by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and Open Lands, citizens and birders returned, and rediscovered Osaka Garden, and demanded its restoration. In 1978, Anderson persuaded officials to name the whole Island after his mentor, environmental and parks advocate Senator Paul H. Douglas and in 1972 had Jackson Park placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Efforts to restore the garden and a build a simplified tea house reached fruition in 1981 and 1983, when the Garden was completely restored and rededicated. George Cooley, currently a JPAC officer, shepherded planning and secured grants for the Garden restoration. Japanese experts were brought in, including designer Kaneji Domoto. Many area groups and individuals have since tended the special palette of plants and trees (including rare pines). Additional important dates for evolution and growth of the garden complex were 1992-3, when the 20th anniversary of the Sister City relationship was celebrated and the Garden renamed Osaka Japanese Garden, and 1994-5, when such additions as a new Torii traditional formal gate (Kobayashi & Associates of Seattle), were dedicated, funded by the City of Osaka. The garden gradually became an international mecca, despite poor directional signage to it. It is a prime site for viewing local and migratory birds. It also presents an interesting set of microclimates and habitats as well as a contrast to the more rustic habitats of the rest of the Island.



Osaka Garden Festival

In the late 1990's, an annual Osaka Garden Festival was organized by Robert Karr and many associates from several organizations, including Japanese-American arts, cultural, religious, and martial arts groups, the City of Osaka and government of Japan, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs/Sister Cities, Chicago Park District, and Chicago Architecture Foundation. The arts, music, ceremonial and martial arts performances, and food were spectacular. It was held in September. Someone should ask the Dept. of Cultural Affairs what it would take to bring it back. 

The principle of a Japanese garden is that you should not have a view of the whole from any one perspective but be refreshed and have your senses stimulated as you come around each turn. Important features include a turtle island in the pool, a moon bridge and walk over water, lanterns and statuary, and a waterfall. All, including the plants, have symbolic references and spiritual effects. For example, by our taking a curved or zigzag path over water, the evil spirits that wear us down to fall away into the water, because they are said to travel only in straight lines. The design was skillfully carried out by experts highly knowledgeable of such associations and effects.

Unfortunately, vandalism sometimes plagued the Garden, to the point that fencing the whole Island was considered in the late 1990's. The sheet shoring along the shore of the interior pool and the East Lagoon was insufficient to guard against lagoon level fluctuations. The waterfall size and pump were not sufficient to keep the water fresh. Shore plantings were not kept up. Stopgap restorations ensued, including that of 1895. Some of the pines suffered infections.

2002 Restoration in conjunction with the Lagoon Restoration Project

It was recognized that at least shore stabilization and replanting should be undertaken as part of the ambitious lagoon restoration project. Other funds suddenly became available in early 2002, including from Japan. However, the migratory bird season arrived before the Japanese Garden expert, Uchiyama, could come from Oregon and personally oversee the engineering and craftsmen's work. By that time, it was understood that a complete rebuilding of the lower reaches of the Garden was necessary, and both this and the specialist work took much more time than expected, barring the Garden to birders and viewers and users of the Garden. Yet, funds were not sufficient to do all the work thought desirable.

The sudden onset of this project with minimal communication to JPAC or Doug Anderson and other tour leaders caused great inconvenience, for which the Park District and project managers apologized. In fact, lack of information on site may have encouraged several late-night break-ins and vandalism which occurred. The garden was reopened by the second week in August. At the August 12 JPAC meeting, members proclaimed the results to be most beautiful. It is hoped that the new protections to the shore, new waterfall and pool, and newly stabilized lagoon levels should prevent previous recurrent problems.

The project included draining and lining the interior pool, giving it sheet steel edge protection, enlarging and repositioning the waterfall, new access to the moon bridge, and new lagoon shore planting at the newly stabilized lagoon water level. The new waterfall has five times the volume of the former and now adds the sonic effect which is part of a traditional garden. There was little change in the main garden vegetation template. Overseeing much of the work were noted Japanese bonsai experts led by Mr. Uchiyama from Oregon. The contractor was Clauss Brothers. Mr. Uchiyama would like to see much more done.

Thought will be given to further upgrades, including new planting--for example, special irises in the mudflat end of the pool--currently unfunded, but providing partnership opportunities. A support group for the Garden is being formed and expects to incorporate. If interested, contact Gary Ossewaarde or Robert Karr (when communication is reestablished) or the Japanese Chamber of Commerce. You may also visit the Osaka Volunteers site,

Another good site is that of JPAC member David Solzman, parked in the site of Museum of Science and Industry, including a picture gallery( click here: more.) See more pics in the site of JPAC and HPKCC member Mary Rose Shaughnessy. The City of Chicago's site (look for Department of Cultural Affairs--Sister Cities) and the Japanese Gardens organization have additional material.

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Granite-Paved Beach North of 63rd Street to be reborn

Reconstruction north of 63rd Street Beach gets was completed. Visit the history and controversy over the paved beach.

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The Animal Bridge over the connection between Outer and Inner harbors

To Animal Bridge graphic and photo gallery. To Reopening of Animal Bridge

The bridge on Coast Guard Drive north of Marquette Drive (6600 S.) was moved a few feet north c. 2002-3, widened and restored, and an underpass constructed just to the south. The visible span and the famous animal heads were restored and reinstalled in 2003. There are new landscaping and points from which to view the heads.

The bridge (originally South Bridge) has a long history. Olmsted had an 1871 plan for a bridge at that place. but bridge plans were destroyed in the Great Fire that year! Development of the park was delayed by property claim suits, difficulty of the terrain, and the Fair. The Olmsted firm plan for the post-Fair park, drawn in 1895, was similar to the original plan, and had a viewing bridge between the harbors, although the channel was envisioned farther north than built.

When the bridge site was actually settled and decision made to build it and a major drive, the remains of the Germania monument from the Columbian Exposition was in the way and presumably knocked over in sections and buried in the vicinity. Germania was intended to promote an early example of advanced concrete (portland cement) construction in sections--and has lasted intact for a century--versus our concrete highways and structures!!. The South (Animal) bridge just 10 years later showed the prescience of using this material and how far design had come along. Patents had just been taken out for a system of steel reinforcement in a concrete arch span, named the Kahn system.

In 1903, commissioners announce plans to finally construct the South Bridge providing a lakefront route to new neighborhoods to the southeast of the park. On March 28, they accept the submission of Peter J. Weber of Cologne, Germany, who had also worked on the Columbian Exposition and Marshall Field's (with the Burnham firm). His inclusion of relief and full 3-D heads of water-dwelling or popularly so associated animals ( hippopotamus, rhinoceros, water fairies, ship's prow...) clearly reflected Olmsted's theme of interaction of water and land and emergence from the water. (The limner and sculptors are unknown.)

The engineer is unknown, but reinforcing steel shop drawings were from the Trussed Concrete Steel of Detroit, which specialized in the Kahn reinforcing system.

In 1904, the bridge was finished by Thomas E. Hill company; cost $40,085. Planned lampposts at the corner were not installed. It is a single 40 foot span as an elliptical reinforced concrete arch and is an early example of Kahn steel reinforcing system in a concrete bridge structure, patented in 1092

The stone came from the Kettle River Quarries Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In 1947, widening of Lake Shore Drive (Coast Guard) required converting the whole width of the span to traffic lanes. A narrow bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists and strung with utility lines was built to the east.

In 2002, the bridge and its sooted, graffitied heads was removed piece by piece for reconstruction and restoration.

To Animal Bridge graphics and photo gallery

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Southern Shore Yacht Club

Southern Shore, one of three separate clubs in the Jackson Park harbor system, has a lovely clubhouse on the west side of the Inner Harbor, on 6401 S. Richards Drive. It wasn't always so, as told in the club's historical pamphlet by Robert J. Smith, updated by Carl J. Miller.

In 1912, eleven powerboat sailors ("stinkpotters"), finding little support from the sailing club in the outer harbor, organized a South Shore Power Boat Club (changed to its present name in 1930).

At first, even getting their gasoline delivered was a difficulty for the boaters. After using temporary homes, the club towed and refit an old houseboat in the outer harbor. (Clubs were then required to be afloat at all times.). Using great resourcefulness, the boat/clubhouse was later relocated in the inner harbor and, still later, anchored so that it seemed to float.

In the early 1920's, the club won a ruling that the then South Park Commissioners could not charge mooring fees unless it provided moorings. The harbor was dredged in 1926.

After the houseboat clubhouse burned in 1934, members built the present Cape Cod style clubhouse, with much help and great resourcefulness. Tom Wilson and John Swanson incorporated a compass rose into a floor of rosewood and special woods waxed under pressure. Ralph Green made special doors for the fireplace and carved the club name over the front door. Portholes, with 3/4-inch thick glass, came from the Century of Progress. Bricks were swiped from in front of a home being demolished (later donated by the owner when she found out!)

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