The City in a Garden

A Photographic History of Chicago's Parks

Post-War Expansion: 1945-1960

post-war-expansionShortly after World War II, the CPD began a major initiative to create new parks that would serve the city's booming population. Identifying neighborhoods with few recreational facilities and rapidly growing undeveloped areas, the Park District selected 43 sites for new parks as part of a Ten Year Plan. The effort also included an extensive program to build field houses, swimming and wading pools, playgrounds, and athletic equipment in the existing parks. By the late 1940s, the expansion program included a School-Park Plan, a cooperative effort between the Chicago Park District and the Board of Education. By creating parks on land adjacent to new schools, facilities could be used by school children during the day and the public during evenings and weekends. During the early 1950s, the CPD began a similar program with the Chicago Housing Authority, through which new parks were built in conjunction with housing projects.

In 1952 bond issue funded the completion of many of the projects conceived in the Ten Year Plan, as well as a major reconstruction of South Lake Shore Drive and several other improvements to boulevards. To eliminate the inefficiency of both the Park District and City of Chicago maintaining large areas of roadway and parkland, the two agencies entered into a consolidation agreement in 1959. Through this merger, the city assumed management of the boulevards and transferred control of more than 250 municipal parks, playlots, natatoriums, and beaches to the CPD. The park police force also merged with the Chicago Police Department.