Parks home. Burnham Park Timeline. Burnham Park Framework Plan. Burnham Nature Center home. Harold Washington Park. Promontory Point Park. Point home.

Burnham Park: the variegated ribbon of south lakefront from South Loop to Jackson Park

This page is presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks Committee (chair Gary Ossewaarde) , and its website Join HPKCC!

3rd Morgan Shoal shoreline protection and park improvement meeting. CPD and partners came with a new plan (reduce but cloe to what was presented before).

Rosemary Hall, for the Committee to name the 31st harbor and park for Margaret Buroughs, reports August 7, 2015:"

I am pleased to share that the 31st Beach & Park will be renamed “Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs Beach & Park.” The Chicago park board has agreed to giving Dr. Burroughs this well-deserved honor.

The announcement of the renaming will take place next Tuesday, August 11 at the 31st St., Beach )adjacent to the beach house.) More information on logistics for the press conference will follow. It will take place at 10:30 AM and the Congressman would like to invite you to attend.

In addition, on Wednesday, August 12 the board will take the official vote at the regular scheduled board meeting the board meeting will be at 3:30 PM in their headquarters board room located at 5:41 North Fairbanks, eighth floor. You are encouraged to attend the Board meeting as well.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me, Ms. Rosemary Hall at 773-224-6500 or Ms. Robyn Grange at the same number.

Community Tree Planting was done in the center section in 2014. In 2015 more shrub infill will commence.

George Davis, steward for the native plant Burnham Corridor north of 47th Street, sent [CU, passed on to Good Neighbors] the following information about the trees that planted there in May.

The trees will be several kinds of oaks (swamp white oak, pin oak, red oak, shingle oak, scarlet oak, chinquapin oak, and white oak). Also sugar maple, red maple, crabapple, redbud and black tupelo.

"These trees are all whips (jiffy plugs) and will be planted a meter apart. Larger trees will be planted in "groves" in the fall by Openlands. The park district will also be planting a large number of shrubs in the fall. They are still working on the plant lists for those plantings."

2 new overpasses are planned for Lake Shore Drive and tracks at 35th an 43rd. The first is about to start in August 2014.

Overview of Burnham Park

Burnham Park is far more than Promontory Point. Burnham was heavily impacted by Lake Shore Drive reconstruction and still is by shoreline revetment reconstruction . Activists held planner's feet to the fire on Drive elevations that could block views and on any additional tree removals. In construction or being planned with community input are revetment reconstruction and park expansion (including beaches, nature areas, fishing piers, and reconfigured bike paths) from 37th to 47th Street- See updates on South Side Shoreline Protection Project and new parkland 37th-47th and 45th to 51st The section 47th to 51st will have special treatment because of Morgan Shoal.
Contact 773 256-0949.

The University of Chicago has a large information and reference page on the Burnham Plan-

Burnham is of course a big park, going all the way from the Point (56th Street) north to 12th Street, with some parts renamed in recent years (recently: Firefighters Memorial Park south of McCormick Place). Many new facilities are going in or are envisioned in its Framework Plan. (See updates...37th-47th.) Amenities, including open bathrooms, adequate lighting, safety, and good concessions are perennial problems. Construction has also caused inconveniences and path detours. For more about Burnham Park and its history, visit the City of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive History site.

Regarding the work underway from the north end of the Sanctuary to 31st from April 2013, George Davis writes

The trucks belong to the contractor who is assisting the Park District with their "prairie extension" in Burnham park to provide a better habitat for migratory birds. They are removing all of the invasive brush and trees between 31st and the Natural Area. They are leaving the very large trees and medium size trees of desirable species. At present they are only working on CPD property. When they complete their agreement with the CN RR they will remove all of the above between the CPD and the RR access road. In the fall, there will be a gigantic planting of 125,000 desirable trees and shrubs. (These will be little whips, not 2 or 3 inch diameter trees. ) In any event, we have been monitoring this situation.

The Park District has a video about the wildlife habitat expansion on the west side of Lake Shore Drive that can be seen on the WBEZ blog written by Chris Bentley. The dates are a little off, but the project is underway with plantings of native species planned for this year.


Burnham Park's extraordinary history is chronicled in Burnham Park Timeline and its complexities and possibilities in Burnham Park Framework Plan 2000. Never fully developed (especially in comparison to Lincoln Park) , in many ways cut off from neighborhoods by Lake Shore Drive and a railroad whose right of way was the first step in building out a future park, and with many slices carved off and re-named, Burnham nonetheless is a necklace of public space that embodies Daniel Burnham's Plan for Chicago and vision of green space surrounding the developing Chicago metropolis.

People feel a deep passion for this park that envelops the Lakefront Bike Trail despite the park's frequent disconnect from neighborhoods. Many in the mid 1960s were prepared to lay down before chainsaws or be arrested to "Save Our Trees" from highway widening. In the new millennium, they feel as strongly for Promontory Point at the park's south end; work to revitalize Harold Washington Park (old East End, 50th to 53rd--the mid-South's first park, created by Paul Cornell) and overgrown stretches between the Drive and the Tracks; grapple to craft best plans to rationalize and expand the park out into the lake (while respecting such lake treasures as Morgan Shoals) with new and more natural/bird-friendly parkland, beaches, amenities, even harbors, and sometimes rally around monk parakeets. New natural sanctuaries and memorial parks exist alongside huge facilities such as McCormick Place and the endless maw called Lake Shore Drive. (And even remake of the Drive has sought to enhance the park.) Yet, only in patches is this park watched over by active park advisory councils.


News and feature bits

Marked trees baffle park users and city says Herald, October 2005

By Tedd Carrison

A cluster of trees near 51st Street, reportedly set for removal by the Chicago Park District due to Dutch elm disease, have raised t he eyebrows o local park-goers and tree experts who dispute that the trees are unhealthy or even elms. They also claim that far more trees are marked than the 15 park district officials said were to be cut down.

The discrepancy was first Hyde Park resident Martha Scott... She said she was in the park with her son, a forester, who informed her that the trees marked with fluorescent orange spray paint were not diseased elms but rather a healthy mixtures of cottonwood, ash, locust, apple, linden, Kentucky coffee and hackberry trees.

Nichols Park Advisory Council President and tree expert Stephanie Franklin agreed. "First, it isn't 15 trees. It's about 60 and there isn't an elm in the bunch," she said. "There is certainly something else going on and clearly it has nothing to do with Dutch elm disease."

Park district spokesperson Lydia Hall maintained that only 14 trees are to be removed and that Dutch Elm Disease is the reason. She said the affected trees are spread out along the south lakefront and visibly dead or diseased. Any other trees are marked for a different project not affiliated with the park district, she said.

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele denied that CDOT was planning to clear the trees and said he was unaware of any projects planned near the site.

A spokesman with the Department of Streets and Sanitization Bureau of Forestry also denied her department's involvement. She added that the department only uses green spray point to mark trees, not the orange seen at 51st Street.

[So,] no no one had claimed responsibility....

[Ed. note - one last guess to try--Shoreline Protection for the Morgan Shoals sector-- Department of Environment.] Top

41st Street beachhouse

The 41st Street (Oakwood) beachhouse was dedicated July 17, 2010. Remarks were made by Ald Preckwinkle, Mayor Dyaley, state Sen. Raoul, Erinn Cabonargi (Dir., Public Building Commission) and Parks Supt. Timothy Mitchell who was master of ceremonies. The project was a partnership of the entities the speakers represented.

Environmental sustainability features were strong (LEED status is awaited) and include rainwater harvesting and use for utilities. Economic sustainability and minority and women inclusive was stressed. Architect was Muller + Muller, general contactor Pacific Construction Services.
A junior lifeguards program will be sited there.

Other recent: successful planting and burns of the prairie sections in the parkland, opening of 31st beach and beachhouse and adjoining revetment sections in 2009; opening of 41st St. beach and adjoining revetment sections in 2009.

Next features: 31st St. Harbor. Overpass to the park at 43rd St. (funded and ready to go in within 18-24 months after July 2010.

2014-Two new scenic overpasses approved over the drive, one to start construction at end of July/start of August 2014.

By Josh McGhee in DNAinfo Sam Cholke July 14, 2014

There's a bold new feature coming soon to South Lake Shore Drive that will benefit pedestrians and bicyclists — and give drivers something to gawk at every time they pass.

Construction is expected to begin later this month on a unique, curving, $18.3 million bike and pedestrian bridge over the the Drive at 35th Street that will also span nearby railroad tracks, giving South Siders an improved link to the lakefront.

The decaying, 75-year-old bridge now spanning the tracks and Lake Shore Drive will be shut down starting next week.

The long-awaited replacement bridge was the subject of a design competition in 2005, and construction is finally set to start in two weeks now that a contract was awarded late last week to a joint venture of James McHugh Construction Co. and Araiza Corporation.

McHugh/Araiza is expected to have the 620-foot suspension bridge ready for use by fall 2015. It will become the first suspension bridge over Lake Shore Drive.

In a writeup by the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois, John R. Hillman's design is described as a bridge that "exploits the classical principles of a self-anchored suspension bridge with a twist. The bridge crosses over Lake Shore Drive on a reverse horizontally curved alignment to provide for panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline."

The bridge features an A-shaped tower with a single suspension cable designed to support the bridge deck despite the difficulties presented by the curved design.

"The proposed replacement structure for the 35th Street Bridge not only provides another civic icon for the City of Chicago, but also provides an essential link to reconnect the citizens of this part of the city with the lakefront amenities that are uniquely Chicago," according to the association.

"We look forward to getting to work on this important project for the city and its residents," said Michael Meagher, senior vice president of McHugh. "This has been a busy year, as many new projects continue to roll in. We are excited to lead the talented team assembled specifically designed and build this bridge."
The $18.3 million project is scheduled to begin this year.
The $18.3 million project is scheduled to begin this year. View Full Caption
Courtesy of James McHugh Construction Company

The design for the bridge goes back nine years, when Teng & Associates, an architectural and engineering firm that has since merged with design firm exp, won the design competition.

The single-cable, concrete suspension bridge will not only span Lake Shore Drive, but also the nearby Illinois Central railroad tracks, which carries freight trains and Metra trains.

Last month, the city announced plans for a $22 million pedestrian bridge to replace the dilapidated crossing that spans Lake Shore Drive at 43rd Street.