Located in the South Shore Community, Chestnut Playlot Park is one of the Park District's passive areas.
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By the late 1950s, the South Shore neighborhood had long been considered “one of the finest residential areas” in Chicago. Civic organizations worked closely with the City of Chicago to keep it that way, despite changing demographics at that time. In 1958, the City of Chicago acquired several residential lots on South Dante Avenue to create a new playlot park in the South Shore community.
The following year, ownership and management of the small park transferred from the City to the Chicago Park District. The site was soon improved with playground apparatus, trees, lawn and benches. On November 24, 1960, the Chicago Tribune published an article entitled “Modern Playlots Are Open” featuring a photograph of children playing on the merry-go-ground at the park at E. 70th Street and S. Dante Avenue, which had not yet been named.
The Chicago Park District officially named the site Chestnut Park in 1973. It was one of a number of park properties named for trees and plants at this time. Chestnuts take the form of both trees and shrubs. Five of the 14 chestnut species are native to North America. The American Chestnut, the "spreading chestnut tree" of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, The Village Blacksmith, once grew to a height of 100 feet, with a broad, rounded crown. Formerly prominent in the forests of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, the American Chestnut is now somewhat rare due to chestnut blight.