Jackson Park Included on List of Endangered Structures

Groups says park is threatened by the construction of the Obama library, a newly renovated golf course, and restoration plans from Project 120.

By Olivia Rosenzweig

On Wednesday, Preservation Chicago named Jackson Park one of the seven most endangered structures in Chicago, due to various construction projects in the area, including the Obama presidential library and Obama Presidential Center.

According to its website, Preservation Chicago is an organization that seeks to support Chicago’s “historic built environment.”

Since 2003, the organization has released a list of the “Chicago 7 Most Endangered Buildings,” to pinpoint buildings and other structures in Chicago that are threatened with destruction or loss and recommend methods of preservation, according to the Hyde Park Herald.  

Preservation Chicago named three interrelated threats to Jackson Park: the construction of the Obama library, the installation of a golf course by the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, and the various building proposals by Project 120, a nonprofit that partners with the Chicago Park District to revitalize parks on the South Side.

“These nonprofits are governed by their respective boards of directors and not accountable to the citizens of Chicago as are our governmental agencies, such as the Chicago Park District,” Preservation Chicago said on its website.

Preservation Chicago explained how these organizations may not be sufficiently considering community inclusion or preservation in their planning citing how Project 120 had not consulted the public before making plans and has had few public meetings. Additionally, Preservation Chicago expressed concerns that preservation considerations will not be present in the final plans of the Obama presidential library and the golf course renovation.

In its description of the threat to Jackson Park Preservation Chicago explained that it hopes to create a dialogue with the Chicago Park District about ensuring that any changes to Jackson Park “will be conducted with sensitivity to key features and structures of the historic park landscapes.”

They cited other groups’ efforts to monitor these building plans and their effect on the park, including Friends of the Parks, Jackson Park Watch, and the Jackson Park Advisory Council.

On the website, the organization deemed Jackson Park “among the greatest historical and environmental assets of the City’s South Side.” The 500-acre park was designed by famous landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

The other structures included on the list are contemporary 20th-century artwork in downtown Chicago, the Cornell Store and Flats in Greater Grand Crossing, Altgeld Gardens in Riverdale, the water cribs in Lake Michigan, the Madison-Pulaski shopping district in West Garfield Park, and the Chicago Union Station Power House.