Jackson Park

Jackson Park - An extraordinary past, and an even greater future... Between 1890 and 1895, Frederick Law Olmsted and Daniel H. Burnham accomplished no small plans in Jackson Park. In that tradition, we renew Chicago's commitment to their vision.

On February 24, 1890, the City of Chicago was selected by the United States government to host one of the most important international events in the country's history - a world's fair to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1492.

Located in the middle of the country, at the crossroads of transportation and commerce, Chicago rose quickly from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871. By 1890, Chicago's population exceeded one million, and its skyline had begun to take shape with the world's first skyscrapers. Selected over New York, Washington D.C. and St. Louis, Chicago represented the ambition and fortitude of this frontier nation that now spanned from "sea to shining sea."

Seemingly overnight, Frederick Law Olmsted and Daniel H. Burnham transformed Chicago's Jackson Park, on the south shore of Lake Michigan, from sand and marshland into an electrified city of giganic neo-classic buildings for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. It was there, in what became known as the "White City," that over 27 million visitors came from around the world to see the best examples of industrial, scientific, and artistic talents of the day.

Today, in the tradition of Olmsted and Burnham... Project 120 Chicago and the Chicago Park District are working together with the community to learn for the past to create Jackson Park's future.

Plans and projects for Jackson Park are being developed and implemented in the tradition of Olmsted and Burnham and consistent with the vision of the Chicago Culture Plan 2012.  These efforts support the progress to create a diverse and expanding economy that fosters innovation and creativity throughout the City of Chicago - by working together, we are utilitizing the arts, culture, science and ecology to build community, stimulate economic development, create jobs, attract tourists, and foster innovation.  Our plans for Jackson Park bridge human culture with science and nature - creating a pivitol space where our past can be better understood, and a brighter future imagined and developed.

Jackson Park, the location of the historic "White City," will be transformed into the "Green City," a world-class campus where humanity, science, and nature can be explored and experienced in a classic American urban setting. A revitalized Jackson Park, with the Museum of Science and Industry and other institutions in and around the park, will further contribute to the southside becoming one of the most livable and dynamic places in Chicago.

An overview of the past and future in pictures...The design evolution of Jackson Park, Framework Plans, and Projects are explained throughout this site. The following are highlights of Jackson Park's history from 1871 to present.

Above Image: 1871 Olmsted and Vaux South Park Plan (today, Jackson Park, Washington Park, and the Midway Plaisance).

Above Image: 1893 World's Columbian Exposition held in Jackson Park from May 1, 1893 through October 31, 1893. The design collaboration of Olmsted and Burnham inspired the City Beautiful Movement, which led to the 1902 McMillan Plan for Washington D.C., Burnham's 1909 Chicago Plan, among others throughout the United States.
Above Image: Post-Exhibition 1895 Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot General Plan for Jackson Park, showing in red the locations of the Exposition buildings. Two buildings remained after the Exposition and in Olmsted's plans: (1) The Palace of the Fine Arts by Charles Atwood (Museum of Science and Industry); and (2) the Japanese Phoenix Pavilion on the north end of the Wooded Island that was built in Japan and gifted to the City of Chicago following the Exposition.
Above Image: Jackson Park in 1938, with Chicago's growing downtown skyline to the north.
Above Image: 2015 Jackson Park rendering showing a revitalized Jackson Park.