Chicago's Lakefront Protection Ordinance

Park News home. Jackson Park home. The Point home. Shoreline Protection Project. Morgan Shoals Section. South Lakefront Access.

Hyde Parker former State Rep. Robert E. Mann contributed mightily to the writing of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance. So was George Cooley.

Although the Ordinance, in its present form since the 1980's, has had little effect when powerful politicians and institutions have teamed up to do what they want on the lakefront, it does set down standards and extra review in hearings and public bodies , such as the Chicago Plan Commission. (The most obvious brushing aside in the area were approval of sweeping expansion by Museum of Science and Industry and La Rabida Hospital and the Shoreline Protection Project, especially proposal for Promontory Point. The Ordinance is so an embodiment of the early twentieth century landmark decisions won by Aaron Montgomery Ward, reinforced by the Burnham Plan of Chicago, providing that Chicago's great treasure and distinctive geographic feature, the Lakefront, will remain "forever free. open, and clear." The Ordinance governs a surprising distance away from the lake, for example Jewish Community Center/Rodfei Zedek between S. Hyde Park and Cornell Ave. in the 5200 block, the former Doctor's Hospital (old Illinois Central Hospital) between Stony Island and the railroad in the 5600 block (both across the street from lakefront parks) and Mount Carmel High School between 6300 and 6500 Dante, over a block west of Jackson Park.

Here are the 14 basic policy criteria of the Ordinance, under which proposals must show impact.

  1. Complete the publicly owned and locally controlled park areas along the entire Chicago lakefront.
  2. Maintain and enhance the predominantly landscaped, spacious and continuous character of the lakeshore parks.
  3. Continue to improve the water quality and ecological balance of Lake Michigan.
  4. Preserve the cultural, historical and recreational heritage of the lakeshore parks.
  5. Maintain and improve the formal character and open water vista of Grant Park with no new above ground structures permitted.
  6. Increase the diversity of recreational opportunities while emphasizing lake-oriented leisure time activities.
  7. Protect and develop natural lakeshore park and water area for wildlife habitation.
  8. Increase Personal Safety.
  9. Design all lake edge and lake construction to prevent detrimental shoreline erosion.
  10. Ensure a harmonious relationship between the lakeshore parks and the community edge, but in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive.
  11. Improve access to the lakeshore parks and reduce through vehicular traffic on secondary park roads.
  12. Strengthen the parkway characteristics of Lake Shore Drive and prohibit any roadway of expressway standards.
  13. Ensure that all port, water supply and public facilities are designed to enhance lakefront character.
  14. Coordinate all public and private development within the water, park and community zones.