23 Nov Park Improvements, Large & Small
Lincoln Park is a free public resource but maintaining and caring for the Park comes at a significant cost. One way the Conservancy helps is by providing private support for public benefit. Two timely examples of our fundraising to enhance the Park are our Lily Pool and North Pond restoration projects. Twenty years ago, we worked with the Chicago Park District to raise funds and restore the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool after it had fallen into disrepair. The $2.3-million restoration project led to the site being named a National and Historic landmark, as well as becoming one of the most beloved spots for Lincoln Park’s visitors. In line with our long-term commitment to the park sites we restore, Conservancy staff and volunteer stewards still maintain the Lily Pool today. In October, the Conservancy welcomed more than 1,600 visitors to the Lily Pool during Open House Chicago, and our knowledgeable volunteers shared “secrets” of the Lily Pool’s restoration, plant and animal life and history with guests.
As we celebrate 20 years of the success of the Lily Pool restoration, we look forward to breaking ground soon on North Pond’s ecological restoration. North Pond is threatened by a variety of environmental factors and without intervention will disappear as we know it. The Conservancy’s restoration project will dredge the Pond, restore its eroding shoreline and create a healthy aquatic habitat to support the variety of wildlife in and around the Pond. The support of the community has brought us to within $100k of funding the $7.3M project and saving the Pond for future generations. And, as with the Lily Pool before it, the Conservancy will continue to be integrally involved in the site’s long-term care.
While our larger capital projects like the Lily Pool and North Pond often garner more attention, the Conservancy regularly improves the Park through mini campaigns and projects. During the 2021 stewardship season, we worked with Aldermans Tunney and Smith, along with residents of Commonwealth Plaza, to beautify the historic Goethe Monument at the intersection of Diversey and Cannon Drives. We also added more native plants to the Sunshine Playscape (rebuilt by the Conservancy in 2019) and oversaw repairs to its willow tunnels which had been damaged during severe weather. We are pleased to say that we’re currently working with an individual donor to restore crumbling pavers at the historic Lincoln Monument and Gardens, a site the Conservancy renovated in the late 1980’s and beautified with gardens in the 1990’s.
If you want to see more park improvements, large and small, please consider supporting our work with a donation during our annual appeal. And you can always sign up to work with us in the park as an engagement or stewardship volunteer. Finally, as the Conservancy engages in a strategic planning process to chart our future course in the Park, we’re asking for feedback from all Chicagoans. What’s your special place in Lincoln Park? What park features, amenities or programs are a priority to you and which can be made even better? Share your special place in the park and let us know your thoughts in our brief survey. The Conservancy is committed to keeping Lincoln Park a world-class destination for visitors, but we can’t do it without you! Bonus: survey takers have a one in five chance of winning a Conservancy tote or water bottle. We look forward to a bright future improving the Park, with you as our partner!