Jackson Park Framework Plan

Above Image: Post-Exposition Planting Plan by Frederick Law Olmsted and his firm, Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot (1897)

2015 Jackson Park Plan Documents

These plans include improvements that respect, preserve, and renew the character of the landscape as designed by Olmsted after the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, while addressing current and future issues and needs.  New benchmarks for urban parks will be established, and visitors will be able to connect with Chicago's past and future, while discovering the wonders of science, nature and humanity in an inspiring historic landscape that is engineered to be a sustainable natural habitat that uplifts and inspires the mind, body and spirit of all who visit.

Jackson Park Framework Plan

 Above Plan: This plan shows a revitalized Jackson Park completed with the projects set forth in the Projects Plan, below.

Jackson Park Circulation Plan

Above Plan: Connectivity to and through Jackson Park is reestablished, including traffic quieting measures and pedestrian freindly crosswalks and intersections.

Jackson Park Projects Plan

Above Plan: Sets forth the following projects for Jackson Park: (1) Project 1 - Olmsted Natural Areas Project; (2) Project 2 - SKY LANDING by Yoko Ono; (3) Project 3 - Phoenix Pavilion & Music Court; and (4) Project 4 - The Great Lawn.

Project 1 is in construction as of January 2015. Projects 2-4 are in active design.
Extensive field studies and documentary research and analysis are at the core of the planning and design process. We obtained original grading, soils and planting plans, sections and planting lists from the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site archives. These documents are illuminated and reinforced by a collection of historic images from the Chicago Park District archives and local archival collections, dating from the 1890s to the 1950s. We studied the breadth of documents concentrating on park composition in terms of scale, rhythm, sequence and overall choreography established by Olmsted between 1895 and 1897.

The Olmstedian style as set forth in the 1895 General Plan by Olmsted is expressed in the as-built park: (1) the Lake expanse to the east for view and contact; (2) the Fields of a great lawn along Lake Shore Drive comparing in size to the Lagoons, and a playing field to the southwest for active recreation; and (3) the Lagoons edged with abundant vegetation.

Our research revealed continuity with Olmsted's plans until the early 1950s. Thereafter, a series of degrading changes took place, including the installation of a Nike missile installation on the Great Lawn (1956-1971), filling in of lagoon areas, adding of parking lots, and building of single-purpose recreation facilities.   Further, as maturing trees and plants were also lost, the park gradually became overgrown with significant invasive trees and plants.

Although the Olmsted design intent for Jackson Park has been degraded over time, with significant changes having occurred in lagoons, land mass, topography, paths and vegetation, we have verified that significant areas of Jackson Park remain as laid out by Olmsted in the 1895 General Plan. 

The 2015 Jackson Park Plans developed by Project 120 and Chicago Park District with the community will guide us now and in the future.  Their implementation will revitalize, and in some cases restore, the Olmstedian style for Jackson Park, including topography, path alignment, lagoon and harbor overlooks, and plantings.

Our research also focused on the history of the landscape, both cultural and ecological. Culture and nature are entangled and inseparable. Often, when addressing historically valuable landscapes, the tension between nature and culture, and historic and ecological values, often yields and unbalanced outcome, with one aspect overpowering the other. In the case of Jackson Park, our talented and experienced interdisciplinary team has achieved this allusive balance.