Located in the Hyde Park cmmunity, Cornell park is enjoyed by park patrons and their families as a passive park and destination.
During the late 1940s and 1950s, as Chicago's historic Hyde Park neighborhood began deteriorating, local civic groups organized to promote racial integration, halt urban decay, and preserve the character of the community. In 1956, the Community Conservation Board approved the creation of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Conservation Area, and by the late 1960s, new apartment buildings, town homes, and shopping centers had been constructed as a result of the redevelopment efforts. Because of the neighborhood's increasing density, residents became concerned when they learned that the city's Department of Urban Renewal planned to develop a vacant lot on Cornell Avenue. Local community groups solicited the help of the non-profit, Open Lands Project, in preserving the green space. In 1969, Open Lands proposed to purchase and develop the property as parkland, and then donate the improved site to the Chicago Park District. It proved easier, however, to transfer the land directly from the city to the park district. The project came to fruition in 1973. The Open Lands Project hired landscape architects Linstrum & Tarnow to design the new park. Conceived as a "model vest-pocket park," the plan retained the existing trees, including an impressive black oak, and incorporated new plantings, a walkway, small grassy playfields, and a small playground area. In 1992, the park district rehabilitated the park's landscape and installed a new soft surface playground. Cornell Park's name recognizes its location on South Cornell Avenue. The street honors Paul Cornell (1822-1904) a lawyer and real estate developer who founded the Hyde Park community. Instrumental in securing approval of the state bill which established the South Park Commission in 1869, Cornell served as a member of its board for 14 years. A second park, Cornell Square, also bears his name.
For directions using public transportation visit www.transitchicago.com.