Mather Park is located in the West Ridge community and shares 13.75 acres with Mather High School where many of the Chicago Park District programs are held. Mather High School features a natatorium, two gymnasia and other rooms for indoor patron use. Outdoors, Mather Park features one senior baseball and four junior softball fields, two combination football and soccer fields, four basketball standards, five tennis courts, four horseshoe pits, a playground, and a sandbox.
Mather Park offers a great variety of sports, and leagues are the majority of its programs. Sports include 16” softball, 12” slow pitch softball, basketball, flag football, volleyball, and indoor soccer. Meeting in the natatorium are the junior lifeguards, life guarding classes, swim team, open swim, and lap swim.
Chicago's West Ridge neighborhood experienced tremendous growth after World War I. Its population ballooned from 7,500 in 1920 to almost 40,000 in 1930. Further growth took place after World War II. In 1946, the Chicago Park District decided to establish a sizable park on Peterson Avenue to meet the area's increasing recreational needs. In 1948, the park district purchased the 8-acre site, initially known as Peterson Park for the adjacent street. A decade passed before improvements began, and the park opened to the public in June of 1959. The park's development coincided with the construction of Mather High School just to the south. From the beginning, the park and the 8-acre school property have been jointly operated by the park district and the Chicago Board of Education. Both the park and the adjacent high school are named for Stephen Tyng Mather (1867-1930), the first Director of the National Park Service. A native Californian, Mather established a borax-making business and soon made his product a household name with the slogan "20 Mule Team Borax." Mather eventually moved to Chicago, where he increased his reputation as an industrialist. Mather joined Chicago's influential Prairie Club and the Friends of the Native Landscape, both of which strongly supported conservation of the Midwest's natural landscape features. During this same period, Mather made frequent trips to the mountains back west, becoming increasingly dismayed at conditions in the national parks. In 1917, Mather was chosen to head the newly-created National Park Service. This position provided a high-profile platform for Mather's advocacy of Midwestern landscape preservation, including a proposal to create a park in the Indiana dunes along Lake Michigan's southern shore.
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