Midway Plaisance Park and Midway PAC
Having an MPACt

Brought to you by Hyde Park-Kenwood Advisory Council, its Parks Committee and its website www.hydepark.org with help from the Midway Advisory Council (MPAC). HPKCC Parks Chair. Join the Conference.

ADVISORY COUNCIL meetings February 12, 6:30 pm. This month at the Skating Rink warming house.
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/Midway-Plaisance-Advisory-Council-1150641734948247/?hc_ref=SEARCH
Email- midwaypac@gmail.com.

MPAC resolution opposing a parking garage on the Midway for the OPC. The garage was eliminated.
A special use center of the Chicago Park District, 1130 E. Midway, Chicago, IL 60637
Center Director: Rick Shaheen (312 745-2470, midway@chicagoparkdistrict.com, rick.shaheen@chicagoparkdistrict.com), Area Manager: Cordell Hopkins, Region Manager: Daphne Johnson. (312 747-7661). Midweek@Midway. Sports Camp

Laid out with long vistas and tree lines at the turn of the century, the "Midway" between Washington and Jackson Parks, followed the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted as part of the South Parks, minus his impossible dream to create a Venetian canal. Later designers: Lorado Taft, Eero Saarinen and recent framework plan designers.

It's part of Chicago's great boulevard system as well as the Chicago Park District South Region. It gave its name to the sideshow sections of amusement parks from the World's Columbian Exposition. Take the Virtual Midway Tour (From Olmsted to the Fair; today.)

Ice Skating call 312 745-2470 or 312 743-PLAY because it's weather permitting. Council. More private events info at 312 742-5369.
Rink opens fourth Friday, November day after Thanksgiving. $4 children, $4 adults. Noon-7 Sunday-Friday, 1-9 Saturday. Skate rental $6.

Midweek @ The Midway. 3 or more Wed. Movies in summer 2019 starting July 10- see under SPECIAL EVENTS.


In this page:


Midway Plaisance vista west from the Masaryk. soccer game, boulevards kiosk at Cottage Grove. Gary Ossewaarde
Vista west of the central, sunken panels from the Masaryk monument and of the north panels from opposite International House (1414 E). Upper right a soccer game by Cottage Grove (note Boulevards kiosk). A northern east panel looking toward the University


Midway Plaisance Advisory Council You can help make decisions on an area that underwent transformation within tradition and which has a highly active recreational, cultural and educational program based in the Ice Skating Rink Fieldhouse and Warming House.

Email- midwaypac@gmail.com.

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/Midway-Plaisance-Advisory-Council-1150641734948247/?hc_ref=SEARCH

Donations may be sent to: MPAC c/o Radiah Smith-Donald, 5331 S Greenwood Ave, Chicago IL, 60615. Checks should be addressed to “Midway Park Advisory Council”

MPAC MEETINGS- usually 2ND WEDNESDAY, 6:30 PM this month February 12 at the Skating Rink warming building.
People from all surrounding neighborhoods welcome.


Midway Master Plan from 2000: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/assets/1/7/Midway_Plaisance_2000.pdf.
Link all master plans in CPD : http://www.chicagoparkdistrict .com/departments/operations/planning-construction/

May 27 2015- A PAC was born- officers elected, and paperwork filled in. A Tour, Make Music Chicago Workday, and schedule were confirmed and issues pursued. Re-elected 2018.
Re-elected November 2019 President: Bronwyn Nichols-Lodato. Vice President: Don McGruder. Treasurer: Radiah Smith-Donald.

Center Director Rick Shaheen (312-745-2470.)

2018 and 2019 MPAC again received a Neighborhood Enhancement Grant from SECC (partners HPKCC, Hyde Park Bank, and POAH). To complete the bulb planing on the rr. hills. The work was completed November 6.
In 2019 another grant of $1,500 was made to MPAC- 3000 bulbs to go in.

August 2018 the PAC passed a resolution formalizing its refusal of any ball/sports field on the Midway (which had been suggested by the Fed Park Service as one close site for a substituion Jackson Park field) and saying the park should stay as it is and protesting the process. This was followed up in late Oct. with a letter to those managing the UPARR process.
In 2019 a committee was established to explore reactivating and improving bike trails connecting Washington-Midway and Jackson Park to the Lakefront.

At its Nov 2019 meeting, the MPAC voted to not pass a resolution on the Obama Presidential Center.


Return to directory

Special events

See the Midway Facebook page and www.nightoutintheparks.org website for upcoming events including summer movies on the Midway .

312 745-2470, midway@chicagoparkdistrict.com. General ice skate schedule 312 747-0233. Runs c. Thanksgiving- end of February.
Free skating lessons start 1st week of January through end of season. 5:30-6:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Midweek @ the Midway Movies et al - 5 movies start July 10. Usually includes related pre-screening events. Or just bring your chair or blanket and picnic. Rain days are usually at end of series of 4 to 6 or so weeks.
See you next year.



Midway Plaisance work days and events

... check website or facebook for when and where.


News and recent

2019-early 2020. The MPAC resolved against any Urban Parks/National Park Service designation of all or part of the east panel for passive recreation. It also decided it will not submit "Consulting Party" comments on the Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance Federal Review Assessment of Effects from OPC/Federal Actions. It sent a letter to the Department of Planning and Development asking removal of comments by members of the MPAC from the recitals of official Consulting Party Comments from the Final Report.

January 8, 2018 the Obam Foundation announced that the parking garage will be built underground in its Jackson Park site rather than seeking public land on the Midway for a garage. What further responsibility or help involvement the Obama Foundation will have for this area is unclear. The Park Distict says it will not push a baseball field there, is leaning toward a kid's interactive garden with nature play space, and will start a Midway adn recreation planning process summer 2018.


Dear (Insert Name/Organization),
Thank you again for attending an MPAC meeting, and listening to questions, feedback, and concerns from the community members who were present. We hope you will continue to attend MPAC meetings and encourage you to not only request feedback, but to adapt the OPC's plans in light of community input. In the spirit of shared and open communication, we share with you MPAC's recent resolution concerning the proposed parking garage and bus staging area. The resolution was passed by a majority of MPAC members at a Special Meeting on 10/18/17.

We look forward to an ongoing, transparent discourse as plans for the OPC continue to develop.

Dear Mayor Emanuel,

The Midway Plaisance Park Advisory Council (MPAC) devoted its August and September monthly meetings to obtaining information from the Obama Foundation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the Chicago Park District regarding the proposed garage and bus staging area on the Midway for the Obama Presidential Center (OPC).

In the October monthly and special meetings, MPAC discussed the information that was communicated and MPAC's position regarding the proposed garage and bus staging area on the Midway. As a result, a resolution was passed by a majority of MPAC members at the Special Meeting on October 18, 2017.

The Obama Foundation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the Chicago Park District each expressed a strong desire to obtain community input as plans progress. In the spirit of shared and open communication, we attach here MPAC's resolution concerning the proposed parking garage and bus staging area, passed on 10/18/17. We have also shared this resolution with MPAC's contacts at the Obama Foundation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the Chicago Park District, as well as with Alderman Sophia King of Chicago's 4th Ward, Alderman Leslie Hairston of Chicago's 5th Ward, and Alderman Willie Cochran of Chicago's 20th Ward.

We look forward to an ongoing, transparent discourse as plans for the OPC continue to develop and we hope that the OPC will adapt its plans to be reflective of community input.


Radiah Smith-Donald
Secretary/Treasurer, MPAC


WHEREAS, the Midway Plaisance (“the Midway”) is an historic park on the South
Side of Chicago on the National Register of Historic Places, designed in 1871 by the
renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and

WHEREAS, the Midway is a vital connection between Jackson Park and Washington
Park, also historic parks designed by Olmsted, a connection which would be severed
by any taking of the Midway for private use, and

WHEREAS, the Midway is used extensively by residents of the Hyde Park,
Woodlawn, South Shore, and Washington Park communities, and belongs to all the
citizens of Chicago, and

WHEREAS, a 2000 Chicago Park District Framework Plan, which was completed
with significant community input and support remains in place as a set of guiding
principles for the use and protection of the Midway and does not provide for a
parking garage and bus staging area, and

WHEREAS, a significant portion of the Midway is being considered for a two-story
parking garage and bus staging area for the proposed Obama Presidential Center
(OPC) in Jackson Park, and

WHEREAS, the taking of public open space for the benefit of a private entity is
unacceptable, and

WHEREAS, the building of such a structure would have a significant negative impact
on the Midway and lead to pollution, traffic congestion, and critical public safety
concerns, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council:
• strongly opposes the proposed garage and bus staging area on the Midway,
• strongly opposes any transfer of Midway land to private entities, and
• strongly urges any action taken with regard to parking for the OPC engage
neighboring communities and take into account the economic impact on
them to serve the stated mission of the Obama Foundation.
Adopted on October 18, 2017


Chicago Park District cleaned and mowed the railroad hill again in early September. The gardens by the fieldhouse are clean and very nice.

Work continued on the railroad hills the first weekend and beyond of April 2016 and Canadian National is removing invasive trees along the tracks. Most of the simple work at the skating rink is done. CDOT has repaired curbs along the M Plaisance. Graffiti abatement for teh time being is considered for the Bench. The April meeting will plan Earth Day (April 23) activites including the daffodil planting. Most of the work orders for the rink and warming station have been filled, including new railings and lights.

The new council (spring 2015) is focused on getting the Canadian National to clean up its site and on getting holes dangerous to soccer players filled. A PETITION WILL BE ONE OF THE AVENUES TO GET A RESPONSE FROM THE RAILROAD. On other problems many work orders have been turned in.

March 30, Monday, 10 am. Walk through was held with Chicago Park District. Starting at Stony Island and proceeding to Ellis= many work orders have been submitted.

Earth Day cleanup was held April 18 and 19. Lots of trash was removed . esp.. near the railroad. Report below.
It's Your Park Workday with Chicago Parks Foundation worked on embankments, panels June 21.

June 20 the council and Chicago Parks Foundation cleaned and prepared the north embankment east of Metra for lilies and cleaned several of the south panels of serious abandoned debris.
June 21 we played host to Make Music Chicago.

July 8 meeting highlights: Excellent news, Canadian National was reached by the city/CDOT and a walk through of the embankment is being set up. Also, progress was made with the steam vents and old belongings.
3 MOVIES as well as 2 concerts are being set up.
Further cleanup and planting decisions are being made.
Certain walks across the Midway will be redone and drops and gaps are being measured. These will be on a costsharing basis. Priority is on unsafe conditions.
Some work and on going maintenance and getting trash baskets etc. waits until the Park District and CDOT sign an agreement. CDOT owns the Midway and the PD lease has expired.

"Annie" was a great success! We were treated to Annie (under the stars) approximately 250 people there by the time the movie started. Josh introduced the event and collected food for the Food Pantry. Thank You Josh.
The pre show was awesome!!!
-Tsukasa Taiko an Asian drum and dance group composed of multiple ages, sexes, and diverse ethnic groups. It was an amazing show.
Thanks to U of C, the Chicago Park District, and Tsukasa Taiko . It was an amazing Free night under the stars on our Historic Midway Plaisance.

August 12 meeting consisted of catch up on planned walk through Monday (including for plantings) August 17 2 pm and of a look for work needing doing, short range and capital.

A walk through with park district was held with the PD August 17 pm. CANADIAN NATIONAL CREWS are reported to HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED TO CLEAN UP THEIR RIGHT OF WAY.
Midway Plaisance walk through with Byron, CPD Projects Director, Liz-CPD Com Garden Dir. , Louise, Fran, Ken , Bronwyn, and Don
The Midway borders 6 communities and is a gateway to each.
-issues of mowing, repairs, garbage pickup not being done depend on whether CDOT or CPD has renewed lease and is the Supervisor of the Midway. Agreed by all: Conditions were better when the CPD supervised the Midway!
- U of C has planted beautiful natural areas from Woodlawn t o Ellis- Do they have permit or lease.
- bridle path on 60th panel needs to be refilled.
- garbage , untrimmed trees, unfilled holes cover panels from Woodlawn to Stony Island.
- rail road hills not mown and garbage collects.
- Canadian National CPD contact has referred their dump to their Maintenance Dept. No Action Yet .
- The old ice rink and the Masaryk Statue area is being damaged by skateboarders. The old ice rink ramps are still there. Could we build a Real Skate Board park here!????
- An earth mound is dumped over the drainage hole of the Clay Bowl at west side of Stony and 60th. And the underground river has produced a Natural wetlands Marsh, inhabited by ducks 8 months of the year. Could we make a real wetlands garden there as a beautiful natural companion to the Formal Circle Garden on the East side of Stony?
- Midway PAC members will begin planting the steep banks along 59th and 60th with Lilly bulbs in fall.
- AYSO will continue to clean and carry garbage back to Jackson Park until some system of garbage collection is established for the Midway.
- replacement of the walking paths along the east and west sides of the fields and the replacement of the two broken water fountains at the Stony Island Fields depends on who is actually the Midway Leasee and supervisor.

Further information from Byron: CPD DOES MANAGE the midway as a City Park currently.
· I have alerted our operations crews to the need for additional trash cans and the ground conditions.
· Regarding the vegetation along the rail lines: It sounds like CPD stopped mowing all the way up to the fence in response to community requests to allow vegetation to obscure the unsightly fence lines. This sounds like a crossed signal between different community interests. We can look into alternative options when we investigate other natural are potential during the Master Plan process.
· Speaking of Master Plan, as mentioned last week, we are definitely looking into the often-flooded field east of the tracks and will scrutinize in depth during our next Master Planning visit. The Midway will be among the top priority sites in the master plan, in response to your stated interest in seeing new Natural Area at the midway.

Louise McCurry writes (slightly modified) November 14, 2015
Team MPAC,
Very exciting things to share.
Thank you for coming to the Project 120 &CPD &Army Corp Jackson, Midway, and Washington Park planning session. On the Midway plan we [called attention to] the dangerous, fast moving traffic running through the Midway; the trackside hill (east and west hill ) neglect; the missing and grass covered sidewalks on those blocks, the flooded Stony Island and 60th Field , and the sledding hills and the suffragette memorial bench on the east track side hill. Patricia liked the concept of the Midway as a gateway bringing people from surrounding communities to enjoy the park.
On Tuesday, forestry and I cleared half the invasive trees and the fence-overhanging branches. Tuesday Afternoon, the CPD forestry expert did a walk through to decide which trees to cut and how to trim the remainder and evaluated which of the dead trees needed to come down quickly On Sunday, CN put a large dumpster beside their tracks.
Today Fran and I cleared more garbage and invasive species. The South East Chicago Commission sent a letter to CN on Friday. Tomorrow at 9 am I am doing the Midway and Jackson tours for a video of the importance of our park.
Indeed, walk throughs in the following days have led to further commitments now and through the spring. More cleaning and removla was done. Metra station and platform rebuilding continues.


The emerald ask borer made a bulls-eye hit on the great lines of trees almost a mile long that define the Midway experience. In November 2014 the Park District removed 104 dead or near-dead ash and has committed to plant new trees in the spring. No more than 15 percent will be of any one species or variety-- a long term goal for the park. Species will include a variety of oaks, maples, lindens, hybrid (i.e. disease resistant) elms, gingko, hackberry, horse chestnut, buckeye, catalpa, honey and black locusts and more, as spokesperson Jessica Maxey-Faulkner told Hyde Park Herald. Presumably each species will be fitted to water, light, and other local conditions by the Park District's talented staff and contractors. Lost, of course, will be the splendor of linear monoculture, but that's not to be anymore (should have learned from previous experience with elms-- and chestnuts elsewhere) but this is an opportunity for a pleasing blend and variety.
summer 2015: there are still numerous trees to come down. Trees that were cut down have been replaced with trees c 2" diameter.


By Sam Cholke in DNAinfo.com. http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150421/hyde-park/abandoned-homeless-village-discovered-among-trees-on-midway-plaisance
HYDE PARK - Volunteers spent 12 hours on Sunday dismantling an abandoned homeless village nestled among the trees of the Midway Plaisance. Workers on Sunday found five structures bolted to trees and sunken into the hillside where the Midway meets the Canadian National and Metra railway between 59th and 60th streets. "I started pulling out vegetation, and under every leaf was another suitcase or another blanket," said Louise McCurry, president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council. McCurry, who is helping resurrect the Midway Advisory Council, and others hacked through the brush and found five shacks, mattresses, a ladder, old doors and a slew of "dead critters" next to the tracks.She said crews were able to bring down two of the collapsing structures and found dead rats and other animals inside, but three shacks remain standing. McCurry said the area is likely the source of the rats that she's heard neighbors complaining about. There were signs of homeless people living in the woods in the fall, but the park lacked an advisory council to coordinate cleaning the area up. Whoever was living in the woods now appears to be gone, according to McCurry, who had been watching for the clear sign of vacancy. "The garbage cans were not there," McCurry said. City garbage cans had gone missing from the Midway and Jackson Park, and one could catch glimpses of blue and green bins near the trees last fall. The garbage cans served as a makeshift armoire, according to McCurry and others who have poked around among the trees. "I think what's happening there now is [other] people are dumping their garbage," McCurry said. "It's a horrible mess -; it's become the Hyde Park dumping ground." Crews from Canadian National Railway were scheduled to come remove the debris Tuesday. McCurry is leading an effort to get Hyde Parkers interested in the Midway again, one of the largest parks in the neighborhood. But it's often overlooked for help by community members because the University of Chicago, which lines the Midway, is very active nearby, and Jackson and Washington parks also need help and compete for volunteers' time. McCurry has a core now of four members and the Midway Advisory Council will officially resume its watch over the park at 6 p.m. Monday at the field house, 1130 Midway Plaisance North, when it elects its first officers in more than a decade.

MEETING OF APRIL 27. By Louise McCurry:
Thank you & MIdway PAC updates

We got much accomplished without a quorum but really need you for the next meeting to set our goals, bylaws, committees, and officers.
Next meeting is Wednesday MAY 13 at 6pm at the Midway Ice Rink .

However Sarah Sheehan, from U of C Community Affairs and Liaison to the City of Chicago and Kimberly De buclet Chicago Park District director of Community and Legislative Affairs came and met with Gary and I and we had a very productive meeting.

Sarah will reach out to contacts at the Canadian National about the debris next to their tracks and contact University groups and Woodlawn groups to become Midway PAC and /or volunteers .
Sarah will make contact with Lab School about a classroom adopting the Midway as a class project .

Kim will confirm with the Park District the status of the lease and /or lease extension with CDOT . (Or IDOT. ) This will let us know who is accountable for Midway Repairs.

Gary will get the next meeting info to the Hyde Park Herald, the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference and Chamber of Commerce news blasts.
And inquire about getting Flower Show flower bulbs and volunteers to plant them on the street sides of the rail track hills.

Louise will do a panel by panel damage assessment of Midway playing fields so we can get needed repairs done.
And organize a Midway World's Fair Tour of the Midway
And prepare the community petition to name the east hill by the tracks in honor of Casey Jones the famous IC RR conductor of the 1893 World's Fair.

The Midway is the largest park in Hyde Park with a rich Olmsted and World's Fair history., extending from 59th to 61st and from the Sands of Time at Cottage Grove To the Flower Circle at Cornell.
The Midway is used by many sports teams and students, dog walkers, and community groups.
Now is the time for our talented community to preserve and give back to this beautiful historical park.

Please come to the next meeting on November 4, 6:30 pm at the Ice Rink and be part of improving our largest Hyde Park park.

October 25 2015 report. Thank you all, Louise writes

Today we
1.Picked up 10 bags of garbage,
2.Removed approximately 2,000 thistle invasive species
3.Replaced the grass rolls on the mat covered grassless areas( I went back with 3 more carts of grass rolls) 4.Removed the grass and debris from inside the cracks of the dropping sidewalks.
5. Removed the blankets, rotten food, and low limbs from the trees.
6 Pulled the vine roots out of the building seams and trimmed all that was lying on the floor.
7. Planted spring flower bulbs in the spots where there were invasive thistles.
8. Removed the molding, wet leaves packed next to the rink wall.

We made a huge difference in the looks and longevity of this heavily utilized park for our families.

On the Metra front, Metra was able to clear all the invasive species opportunistic trees, fallen trees, hidden, brush covered hide outs for drug dealers and the mentally ill, and remove hundreds of bags of rat harboring garbage all in one full day. We commend Metra for being "Good Neighbors" and doing a walk through with us to point out dangerous areas. Metra immediately acted to remove the dense foiliage covered, rat infested, garbage filled hazard bordering our children's 59th Street park playing field .
We thank all reps of agencies who taken the time to walk through and consult on these vexing issues.


STORY OF THE WOMEN' BENCH (Cheney-Goode Memorial) east of the railroad tracks.

Thanks to Trish Morse and Louise McCurry for compiling most of this information. GMO

A Bedford sandstone bench with garden and a sundial was erected in 1930 under the slope of the hill east of the tracks. (The hill was erected in two stages for raising the then Illinois Central main line tracks-- for the Columbian Exposition, and higher for modern trucks in the process of the 1926 electrification of the commuter tracks.) The sundial is long since missing except for its base. The dark, protective paint was added in later years to protect the limestone from graffiti that is difficult to remove--indeed tagging started almost immediately upon dedication, often with words derogatory of women.

Carved into the backrest of the one-piece curved bench are the words (left side facing) Katherine Hancock Goode 1877-1928 and (right) Flora Sylvester Cheney 1872-1929. And the eulogy

Who Devoted their Lives
To the Civic Betterment
Of their Neighborhood,
City and State

(Ida) Katherine Hancock Goode of Minnesota and Philadelphia moved to Chicago with her husband J. Paul Goode in 1903 upon his appointment to the Geography Department at the University of Chicago. She became a leader of the Woodlawn Women's Club and the Political Equality League (forerunner of the Illinois League of Women Voters. She was elected to the Illinois General Assembly House of Representatives (another source says she represented the 5th District in the Illinois Senate) (in 1924? -started service in 1925) and was reelected without opposition. She died of influenza January 13, 1928.
She lived at 6227 S. Kimbark Ave. She was passionate in the cause of women's and children's health and welfare.
Her campaigns included for the Illinois Suffrage Bill of 1913, which granted suffrage in school and municipal elections.
She gave the Convocation Address at the Univeristy of Chicago December 21, 1926 on "Women's Stake in Government."

Flora Sylvester Cheney of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and New York City married Dr. Henry L. Cheny a Chicago physician in 1896. She was for 13 years Executive Director of the Woodlawn Community Center at Hyde Park High School and the first president of the Woodlawn Public School Community Center Association of Chicago, first President of the Illinois League of Women Voters and its Cook County Council of Leagues and for five years editor of its newspaper. Member of the Chicago Women's Club, Women's City Club, and Woodlawn Women's Club. She was active in the mayoral campaign of William E. Dever and aldermanic rae of Charles E. Merriam, UC professor of progressive and urban theory fame and campaign manager for Katherine Goode in her successful campaigns for the Illinois Senate.
Served in the Illinois General Assembly Senate from election (1928, to succeed Katherine Goode) until her death in 1929.
She and her husband, a specialist in the diseases of children, lived at 6041 S. Kenwood. Flora Cheney
died at 57 of Hodgkins Diseases and was buried in Oakwood Cemetary.

The Hyde Park Herald in an editorial said of the memorial bench in July 24, 1931, "I think it's a pretty god idea to call the square mae by Midway Plaisance between the IC embankment and Stony Island Avenue a Memorial Square in honor of former representatives from this district in the state legislature, namely Mrs. goode and Mrs. Chaney. Both were remarkable women and made a deep impression upon their associates in the legislature, in fact, Mrs. Goode was called 'the brains of the Assembly' when she was there. And both women died in office. I think we might be right no and call that spot Memorial Square. "

Organization for a memorial and appeal for contributions by the National League of Women Voters must have been considerable for contributions came from all over the country.

From the Chicago Park District page "The Cheney-Goode Memorial is one of Chicago's few monuments dedicated to women who played a significant role in the city's history. it honors two accomplished women who lived on the city's South Side, Flora S. Cheney and Katherine H. Goode. A large number of donors contributed to this memorial limestone bench and sundial....
In honor to these pioneering women, the Cheney-Goode Memorial was dedicated in 1032."


Enjoy the Midway Winter Garden and Reader's Garden.

The University of Chicago Master Plan/Midway Plaisance (click Midway Plaisance Plan and Midway Skating Rink.)

What's Said about the Midway: Letter from Hank Webber to the Hyde Park Herald, Feb. 2003 (a full outline of plans and program), article about the opening of the North Winter Garden.

LinneConstruction on two Midway Plaisance gardens--Readers Garden and Winter Garden, a joint project between the Chicago Park District and the University of Chicago, began September 5, 2002, when the lawn panel bounded by Ellis Avenue, 59th Street, Woodlawn Avenue, and the North Plaisance Drive was fenced off as a construction zone. Key features already there were the Linne Statue (to be focus of the Readers Garden) and the Skating Rink chiller plant (needing screening by the Winter Garden). There are three parts to the project: planting of the new gardens; realigning the walkways; and installing a new chiller enclosure.

The project's first phase [was]... completed by the end of November when the planting of all the woody plant materials [low to high conifers mainly] w[as] finished, and all walkways [were] again... open for use. The Chiller Enclosure [wa]s also... install[ed last] fall. In the spring, the perennials [were] planted, and the project [was] completed June 1, 2003.

Linne- see description below.

Anticipated is a smaller winter garden in the south panel (at 60th) opposite the North Winter Garden.

For information, please contact U of C Plant Dept. Project Manager at (773) 834-1840. [revised from Joyce Griffin, Executive Administrator, Facilities Services, THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO]. [Another contact: David Guyer, Assistant Director, Office of Community Affairs, University of Chicago, 773 834-4549.]

Take a stroll through the Winter Garden. (But expect it to be much more grown and mature than when these pictures were taken.) About the Linne (Linneus) sculpture, above. ( Original information is not handy at this time; Park District's Julia Bachrach or the Art Institute's Ferguson Fund or tour books on outdoor and sculptural Chicago should have it.) By Johan Dyfverman. That here is a replica of his at the Royal Gardens in Stockholm. This replica was relocated from Lincoln Park to the Midway in 1976, because, this author was told, it was subject to vandalism and much of the Swedish population had moved from the vicinity. Relocation was perhaps requested by Swedish organizations, perhaps as a Swedish-American contribution to the U.S. Bicentennial: Vin Linneus belonged to the 18th Century and was a fountainhead of the Enlightenment. Certainly the move had their consent because a large ceremony was held on April 19, 1976 presided over by the King of Sweden, Karl XVI Gustave, and Mayor Daley. Since Linneus was the founder of modern taxonomy and plant nomenclature, it is appropriate that this fine bronze casting and its plinth be located at a great university and become the center of a garden, especially one devoted to reading and enjoyment of winter and summer plants in the midst of the city.

The garden's concept, refreshing people, is 19th century while its design blends turn of the 20th century City Beautiful formalism with curving informality that regained popularity as the 20th century advanced. The garden is supposed to be zeriscapic--using only natural rain--but in 2003 is was continually soaked by the sprinkler system. There were also some problems with pine die-off, corrected by replanting. Olin Partners and Wolff-Clements have a 5-year maintenance contract. Unfortunately, the Park District will not put sprinkling systems in plantings beds.

The district with U of C has largely finished installing and landscaping a second winter garden, to completely open in spring 2009. This is located south of the current one [on a south panel] and is geometric-formal, in line with the grounds of the Law School (Saarinen and subsequent). Among features are hills, mini walks and a gazebo. The University helped foot the $1.6 million bill for the first Winter Garden and $4 million skating rink.

Summer 2009 will see a new bridge-like gateway Ellis Avenue. This is part of creation of a new mainstreet-spine from the new dorm and future seminary at 61st and Ellis all the way to 55th St. gateway. The street-- and sidewalk even more-- will start to bow out at 60th and 59th, and especially between north and south Midway Plaisance, including with landscaping between street and walks and new lighting. There will be a thin-picket like fence on either side and a shimmery white material stretching down toward the hollowed out panels to give the illusion of bridge from a distance and illusion of a canal in the Midway from the bridge. This will be funded entirely by the University. Similar treatment for Woodlawn and Dorchester are approved but not yet funded. Under exploration is use of solar panels to power the lighting.

In 2008-9 several panels were being allowed to green-over before soccer is resumed. Major drainage work continues in phases.


Return to directory

Winter Garden

In line with the Midway Framework Plan, the south winter garden is in full bloom. And teh "bridges" are nearly complete at Ellis and at Woodlawn. There were plans for a Children's Interactive Play and Learning Garden, that was to have been located between the Metra/Canadian National tracks and Stony Island Avenue, east of which, just in Jackson Park, is the Perennial Garden. Major concepts for later ("funding opportunities") include a demonstration and community horticultural center, redecorated Metra viaducts, and redecorated cross streets which will suggest the Venetian canal originally envisioned for the Midway by its designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. Just to the west of the Midway in Washington Park is the restored Fountain of Time (1920s) (see pictures in Washington Park) and the Allison Davis Garden (under construction and contract for joint management by the University and the Park District). A large part of the western sunken panels were given drainage (with plans to continue in the central panels this year), raised slightly, and returfed (with limited success) , and the banks planted with tens of thousands of bulbs that should bloom this spring. Landscaping at the skating rink is lovely.

Return to directory

Picture: Sculpture The Blanik Mountain Knight by Albin Polasek, cast 1949, installed here May 29, 1955. This Sculpture honors Tomas Masaryk (1850-1937), Czech fighter, author, and diplomat, the first president of Czechoslovakia (created after the First World War), who taught briefly at the University in 1902 and 1908. In legend, the knights sleep under Mt. Blanik in Bohemia, waiting to follow St. Wenceslaus into battle in country's hour of need. Thomas' son Jan Masaryk worked in Chicago 1907-13; as foreign minister in 1939 he was thrown out a window or chose to kill himself during the Communist coup of 1949. Czechoslovakia's 2nd president, Edward Benes, lectured at U of C in 1939 after the German takeover.
The sculpture stands at the east end of the main Midway, just west of the Metra tracks at Blackstone Avenue. This area was to have been site of a companion (Creation? Rising Sun?) to Lorado Taft's Fountain of Time just beyond the west end of the Midway. A reflecting pool has more recently been suggested in the Framework Plan process for in front of the platform and pedestal--and some propose a dog walk behind it!

Masaryk statue, east end of Midway Plaisance
Masaryk/Blanik Knight, closer
The Blanik Knight (Masaryk) sculpture in the east panel just west of the tracks. Honors the first president of Czechoslovakia.  

Enjoying the last day of ice skating, 2003. In background: the Warming House/Midway Center (field house) headquarters. Light food, including pizza, is available. There was skating on the Midway almost from the time it opened. January 9, 1957 Hyde Parkers complained to the Park District about the lack of a formal rink on the Midway. Starting in the 70s? the University of the city would flood the panel east of Ellis in cold weather for skating. In the 90s there was a "temporary" rink that left the panel west of Woodlawn in unusable shape each year and whose refrigeration was very messy an noisy. By the late 90s, the University and Park District started planning for a permanent structure with a winter-refrigerated rink and a warming house/park fieldhouse. This opened in 2001.

4 scenes of the Midway Plaisance Skating Rink, the last day of Skating, March, 2003

Return to directory at top

Park Programs

Seasonal recreational programs and camps at the Center will be presented here and are available at the park district site, by picking up the quarterly regional &PLAY (see what else is available even at a distance), or calling or e-mailing the Center as at top of page. Wider context: Recreation Directory. A description of a night on the Rink with background context. Spring camp is at Nichols- see schedule there. Summer camp registrations are being taken now and filling up- 3 week-long sessions in August- see below.

Ice skating schedule, reservations 312 745-2470. Fees $4 youth, $5 adults

312 745-2470 or 312 741-PLAY.

Ice Rinks Open in November
Get out the skates and get ready for winter fun at the Chicago Park District's nine outdoor ice rinks. Most rinks open for the season on Saturday, November 26. Bring your own ice skates and skate for free at all rinks except for The Rink at Wrigley and the indoor rink at McFetridge Sports Center, where admission fees apply. Each site offers skate rentals for various fees and concessions are available at some rinks. Hours vary.

Midway Schedule:

Fee Public skate ($5) Sat 1 pm-9 pm, Sun 12 pm-7 pm.
Free Public skate M-F 12-7 pm.
School out days- Dec 19-Jan 3 2010 12-7.
Lessons ($50). Sat 1/8-1.29 and 2/5-2/26 1w1:30-12:30 and 1-2, Sun 1/9-1/30 and 2/6-2/2710:30-11:30 and 12-1
also Monday 1/10-1/31 or 2/7-2/28 4-5 pm.
Rat Hockey M and W 7-9 $5. (17 and under)
Kids & Dads Sat mornings 9:30-11:30 am, Sun 9-10:30 am.
Holiday: 12/24 12-41.. Christmas closed. New Years, King (1/17), Lincoln (2/11), Presidents (2/21), Pulaski (3/7) 12-7 pm.
Skate with Santa 12/24 4-5 pm.
Disco Night on the Ice- fast dancing and faster skating- Wed Dec. 29 2010 5-7.
Silver Skates Speed Skating Competition 12/11 4-7 pm.

Reserve the rink for fee: M-F 7-11 pm, Sat 9-11 pm, Sun 7-11 pm $ per hour. 773 745-2470.

Skate sharpening $5, rental $3, Gears package $1, double for non-Chicago. ID required. Wearing of helmets is required on the rink. SKATE RENTAL IS NOW $6.

Midweek @ The Midway - see it again in 2016

Midweek @ the Midway - Wednesdays, movies at dusk, sometimes preceded by themed programming such as dance lessons. 1130 E. Midway Plaisance (middle panel between Woodlawn and Ellis), 312 745-2470.


Register for camps, etc. online at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com, or in person.

Return to directory (top)