Construction Underway Towards Dramatic Transformation of Maggie Daley Park


The first phase of construction work is underway in North Grant Park on a 20-acre, multi-functional park that Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in August will be named Maggie Daley Park in honor of Chicago’s late former First Lady.  The park is poised for a dramatic transformation that will include multisensory landscaping; signature elements like rock-climbing sculptures, an ice-skating ribbon, and play garden; and multiple event spaces.

Maggie Daley Park will be located above the Millennium Lakeside parking garage (formerly known as the East Monroe Garage), which is in need of extensive renovations, including replacement of the roof’s waterproofing membrane.  While this work necessitates the complete removal of the park above, it also provides the opportunity to totally reconsider the design and function of the park.

The existing trees must be removed from the park to allow for the roof membrane repairs.  The Chicago Park District and its consultant team analyzed the removal of the trees, including options for tree protection, transplant and re-use.  Each individual species was extensively evaluated for the health, survivability and cost of a transplant.

At the completion of the renovation, more than 1,000 new trees will be planted to provide a diverse landscape.  Much of the new plant material was selected specifically for its natural habitat opportunities, including the ability to attract migrating birds and other wildlife.  The park renovation will also harvest 160 mature large trees that can’t be transplanted, but will be reused in innovative ways.  Some of the harvested wood will be re-used as play elements in the Play Garden while others will be turned into benches to provide seating for park users.

As tree removal begins, the impact to local wildlife will be closely monitored during construction.  The Chicago Park District will be humanely catching, relocating and releasing the rabbits and squirrels currently occupying the park to minimize dispersal on surrounding properties due to construction.  All captured animals will be removed and relocated according to the regulations set by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  Construction is not anticipated to impact birds as the removal activities begin after the southern migratory season.

The field house, playground, tennis courts, and skating rink are currently closed and will remain closed during construction. 
• Children’s programs are accommodated at Northerly Island, 1521 S. Linn White Dr. and adult fitness programs at Lake Shore Park, 808 N. Lake Shore Dr. 
• Alternate locations for playgrounds include Lake Shore Park; Lakeshore East, 450 E. Benton Pl.; Seneca Playlot Park, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; Burnham Park, 5491 S. Lake Shore Dr.; Roosevelt Park, 62 W. Roosevelt Rd.; and Jones Park, 1240 S. Plymouth Ct. 
• Alternate tennis court locations include Grant Park, 900 S. Columbus Dr., Lake Shore Park; Dunbar Park, 300 E. 31st St., Lincoln Park, 3700 N. Recreation Dr.; and Skinner Park, 1331 W. Monroe St.
• Alternate skate rink locations include Millennium Park operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, 201 E. Randolph St.; McFetridge Sports Center, 3843 N. California Ave.; and Midway Plaisance, 1130 Midway Plaisance.

Lakefront access is still possible through connections to Monroe Street to the south via Columbus Avenue, Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue.  Pedestrians can connect to the east by accessing the middle level of Randolph Street via stairs at the northeast corner of Columbus and Randolph.  Finally, routing to the north through Lakeshore East to the Riverwalk trail provides access to the lakefront trail.

The BP Bridge will be partially closed during construction.  Park users will be able to access the bridge from Millennium Park to about the mid-point of Columbus Drive where they’ll have an opportunity to view the construction activity.  Construction hours are Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and Saturday hours as needed.  Construction will continue through substantial completion in winter 2014 with additional spring plantings in spring 2015.  Visit for construction updates and park renderings.

About Maggie Daley Park

The park area is bordered by Columbus Drive, Randolph Street, Monroe Street and Lake Shore Drive.  In addition to the new recreation and leisure opportunities created by the rock-climbing sculptures, ice-skating ribbon, and play garden, Maggie Daley Park will also include a variety of event spaces such as three large open lawn areas, a smaller lawn panel, café space and the skating ribbon. The park also will have picnic groves that can be used for smaller groups, such as birthday parties.

The Daley Bicentennial Field House will be a central hub for the indoor and outdoor programming at Maggie Daley Park throughout the year.  Following construction, expanded programming will resume at Daley Bicentennial Field House. The core programs, such as day camps and pre-school, will be retained, and new programs made possible by the new park features such as the climbing park and skating ribbon will be added in 2014 and 2015.

The total project cost is estimated to be $55 million, which includes a combination of public and privately-raised funds.

For more information on the Chicago Park District call 312-742-PLAY.


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