Jackson Park to add new amphitheater, museum, and café in $10-million renovation

Goal is to “create a lakefront area that is accessible and available to all.”

By Ananya Pillutla

Jackson Park, a 500-acre park located just south of Hyde Park’s Promontory Point, will be renovated by Project 120, a Chicago-based nonprofit created solely for this project. They will be working with the Chicago Parks Department to create an amphitheater, exhibit space, museum, café, and remodeled natural spaces, all on the lakefront.

The renovation will begin in early 2015 and finish around 2016. Project 120 has proposed a $10-million renovation plan which will be funded by private donors from the community.

According to a statement from University spokesperson Dianna Douglas, “renovations to Jackson Park are part of a proposal made by parties who are not affiliated with the University.” The University, however, has provided space for two public meetings run by Project 120, as it does for other nonprofit community groups.

Jackson Park was the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect and landscaper behind Central Park in New York, Jackson Park used to be home to natural forests, a landscaped lakefront, and a large amphitheater for outdoor summer concerts, features Project 120 intends to restore.

Bob Karr, a founding board member and president of Project 120, says that the renovation will “remember the historical importance and keep in mind current needs” of Jackson Park.

Project 120’s main goal for the renovation of Jackson Park, according to Karr, is to “activate use of the park and bring vitality and energy back to the historically significant area…and create a lakefront that is accessible and available to all.”

Specifically, Karr says he hopes that the new Jackson Park will provide a way for University of Chicago students from around the world to connect with the history of Chicago.