Lincoln Park Conservancy


Lincoln Park Conservancy


"A cool, refreshing, clear place of trees and stones and running water."
- Alfred Caldwell, Landscape Architect

Step through the Prairie-style Fullerton gate and enter a hidden garden of unmatched beauty. Only bird songs and the sound of a gentle waterfall break the restful silence. Follow the stone walk encircling the lily pool and discover a pavilion, council ring, and a diverse palette of native midwestern plants. This is the vision of landscape architect Alfred Caldwell: a hidden garden for the people of Chicago designed to resemble a river meandering through a great midwestern prairie.

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is now a National Historic Landmark and a Chicago Historical Landmark thanks to the restoration efforts of the Lincoln Park Conservancy and Chicago Park District. Completed in spring 2002, the restoration returned this public park site to Alfred Caldwell's original 1936 design, a design inspired by the works of Jens Jensen and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The site of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool was originally part of a Victorian garden built in 1889 that displayed tropical lilies and other aquatic plants. When the Victorian-style garden fell out of popularity, the lily pool fell into disrepair until 1936 when Alfred Caldwell redesigned the pool and its surrounding area.

By the 1950s, the lily pool had again deteriorated and was loaned to the Lincoln Park Zoo as an avian exhibit known as "The Rookery," which caused further deterioration until eventually the lily pool was closed to the public. Weedy trees and shrubs grew unchecked, stonework broke, hillsides eroded, wildflowers died, and the lily pool filled with debris.

Finally, in 1997, the Lincoln Park Conservancy and Chicago Park District began a plan to preserve and restore Alfred Caldwell's historic landscape and improve accessibility. The lily pool is now, once again, "a cool, refreshing, clear place of trees and stones and running water."

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is managed by the Lincoln Park Conservancy and Chicago Park District. Docent tours are available through the Lincoln Park Conservancy, as well as volunteer gardening opportunities.

Click on the links to the left to plan a visit or for more information.

Learn about the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool's wildflowers with our Google Map showing the location and species of the native flora!

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool Plant Map

The Pavilion (wood structures in autumn)
The Council Ring (limestone ring in spring)

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