Midway Plaisance Park

  • 1130 Midway Plaisance North   Chicago, Illinois 60637 [View Map]
  • Fieldhouse Hours: ,
  • Park Hours:
  • Park Supervisor: Rick Shaheen
  • Park Phone: (312) 745-2470

Located in the Hyde Park community, Midway Plaisance is a special-use ice skating rink facility which totals 83 acres and features a warming center. Green features of the park include a north and south winter garden. Outside, the park offers the ice rink and multi-purpose fields. Many spaces are available for rental including our ice rink, warming center, and fields.

Park-goers can participate in ice skating lessons, kids and adults Rat Hockey (pickup games), and special events.

In addition to programs, Midway Plaisance hosts fun special events throughout the year for the entire family, such as movies & summer concert series, Hyde Park Jazz Fest, Silver Skates speed skating competition, and Disco on the Ice.

History

The Midway Plaisance is a magnificent linear stretch of parkland between Jackson and Washington parks.All three sites were originally conceived as a single landscape known as SouthPark.Soon after the Illinois Legislature established the South Park Commission in 1869 to create and maintain the park, the newly-appointed commissioners hired Olmsted & Vaux, the nationally renowned designers of New York’s Central Park, to lay out the 1055-acre park.

Concerned about the flat and marshy conditions of the unimproved site, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. asserted that, “If a search had been made for the least park-like ground within miles of the city, nothing better meeting the requirement could have been found.” He believed, however, that the site possessed one important asset— its relationship with Lake Michigan.Interpreting the lake as a tremendous object of sublime scenery, Olmsted & Vaux used water as the guiding theme for the park’s original plan of 1871..

The designers envisioned an intricate system of lushly planted lagoons covering about one-third of the Lower Division (Jackson Park). This waterway would link with Lake Michigan on the east and with a smaller lagoon called the Mere at the Upper Division (Washington Park) on the west via a long formal canal and pleasure drive, accessible to people walking, riding horses (and carriages), and boating.Olmsted & Vaux named the center landscape the Midway Plaisance. (There is a French word plaisance that roughly translates to “place for boating,” however some dictionaries believe the word is an obsolete spelling of “pleasance,” a secluded part of the landscape or garden.)Despite the importance of the canal to the overall design of the park system, its construction was put on on-hold due to financial problems after the Great Fire of 1871.

Two decades later, Jackson Park was selected as the site for the World’s Columbian Exposition, and Olmsted worked closely with architect Daniel H. Burnham to transform the largely unfinished grounds into the “WhiteCity.”The fair authorities decided to use the Midway Plaisance as the site of amusements, restaurants, foreign villages, and ethnological exhibits.These attractions were allowed to charge extra, and helped the fair become a financial success.The most iconic attraction on the Midway was the world’s first Ferris wheel.Standing to a height of 264-feet, it had thirty-six cars, each with a capacity of sixty people.The twenty-minute ride made two revolutions and cost fifty cents per customer (which was the same cost as a full day admission price for the fair.)

More than twenty million people had visited the fair during the sixth month period in which it was open in 1893.After it closed, the South Park Commissioners hired Olmsted’s firm, then known as Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot, to transform the fairgrounds back into parkland.Emphasizing the great success of the electric launches, gondolas, and other types of boats at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Olmsted recommended that his vision for a canal through the Midway Plaisance canal should be considered.The commissioners instructed Olmsted to create a revised plan for the canal, and asked him to estimate the expense of the project including the cost of gondolas.They formally adopted Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot’s plan for the Midway Plaisance with the canal in 1894.

Although the South Park Commissioners negotiated with the Illinois Central Railroad Company for permission to build part of the canal on railroad right-of-way, the project was delayed again.At the time, transforming the Jackson Park fairgrounds back into usable parkland was the priority, and the canal was proving to be an expensive proposition.In addition to the costs of building the proper crossing over the train tracks and bridges over the water, the project would have also required the construction of a series of locks because of the difference in the elevations of the lagoons, and the fluctuating water levels of Lake Michigan.The canal was considered a future project, and in the meantime, the commissioners installed sewers, drives, walks, bridle paths, reconditioned the wide center lawn, and planted more than 500 elm trees in straight rows lining the driveway.

By the turn of the century, the Midway Plaisance was a popular spot for ice skating and sledding in the winter and strolling and bicycle riding in the summer.Architect Henry Ives Cobb had created the original plan for the adjacent University of Chicago campus, and designed some of the institution’s earliest Gothic style buildings.Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg had his track team train for relay races on the Midway.

Preeminent sculptor Lorado Taft established his Midway Studio out of a converted barn at 60th Street near Ellis Avenue in 1906.Two years later, he began envisioning ways to beautify the Midway Plaisance.Taft suggested implementing the canal, creating three sculptural bridges to span over it: the Bridge of the Arts, the Bridge of Sciences, and the Bridge of Religions, and lining the waterway with statues of the “world’s greatest idealists”.At the extreme ends of the broad boulevard Taft suggested two monumental sculptural fountains, the Fountain of Creation on the east end, and the Fountain of Time on the west end.

While most of Taft’s proposal was never seriously considered, the B.F. Ferguson Fund of the Art Institute agreed to commission the Fountain of Time in tribute to an 1814 peace treaty between England and the United States.Completed in 1922, the impressive monument was inspired by a poem entitled the Paradox of Time by Henry Austin Dobson.It is composed of a crag-like figure of Father Time watching over a procession of 100 human figures, with a symbolic reflecting pool in between.

In the late 1930s, Chicago Park District landscape architect May E. McAdams designed a perennial garden at the east end of the Midway Plaisance which followed the configuration of the circular sunken lawn panel— the outline of what would have become the canal’s turning basin.McAdams’ garden provided the inspiration for the 2005 Allison Davis Garden designed by landscape architect Peter Lindsay Schaudt and located on the west end of the Midway Plaisance .The new garden pays homage to renowned social anthropologist Allison Davis (1902 – 1983) a pioneering scholar who was the first tenured African-American professor at the University of Chicago.

The Chicago Park District and University of Chicago also worked together on the development of new gardens on the north side of the Midway Plaisance, the Winter Garden and the Readers’ Garden. Other recent improvements to the Midway include a rink for ice skating in the winter and in-line skating in the summer. Located in the center of the Midway just west of S. Woodlawn Ave., the rink stands on the exact location of the historic Ferris wheel.

The restoration of the Fountain of Time has been one of the most challenging and expensive of the recent improvements in the area.Expert conservator Andrzej Dajnowski began intensive studies to determine the appropriate conservation treatment for the historic concrete fountain in 1992.The $2 million project has been funded by the Chicago Park District, the Ferguson Fund of the Art Institute, a Save America’s Treasures Grant, the University of Chicago, the Parkways Foundation and private donors.Conducted in two major phases between 1998 and 2002 and between 2002 and 2009, sculptural fountain and its reflecting basin have been fully conserved, the surrounding landscape has been improved, and monument’s lighting has been upgraded.

Parking/Directions

For directions using public transportation visit www.transitchicago.com.

Midway Plaisance - Plaisance Café

Midway Plaisance - Plaisance Café

Location: 1330 Midway Plaisance North

Phone: (773)456-5442

Notes:

www.kilwins.com

Midway Soccer

Midway Soccer

Location Notes: 1130 Midway Plaisance North Chicago IL 60637

Midway Volleyball

Midway Volleyball

Location Notes: 1130 Midway Plaisance North Chicago IL 60637

Events

Fall Programs

View our fall program schedule below.  Most activities run the week of September 15 through the week of December 1.  Registration is on-going while spots are available.


Winter Programs

Most activities run the week of January 5, 2015 through the week of March 16, 2015.  
View programs online beginning Monday, November 17.

  • Online registration begins on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 9:00am.
  • In-person registration begins on Saturday, December 6, 2014.

Click on the program name links below for program descriptions, availability information and to register online now (if available).

Name Number Type Category Ages Gender Dates Fee
Family Skate at Midway Plaisance 99486OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/11/29 23:30From November 29, 2014 to February 21, 2015
Each Saturday from 5:30pm to 9pm
$10.00
Ice Skating - Beginner at Midway Plaisance 99843InstructionSports - Skating6 and upCoed2015/01/04 16:30From January 4, 2015 to February 15, 2015
Each Sunday from 10:30am to 11:30am
$100.00
Ice Skating - Beginner at Midway Plaisance 99842InstructionSports - Skating6 and upCoed2015/01/03 17:30From January 3, 2015 to February 14, 2015
Each Saturday from 11:30am to 12:30pm
$100.00
Ice Skating - Beta at Midway Plaisance 99850InstructionSports - Skating6 and upCoed2015/01/03 19:00From January 3, 2015 to February 14, 2015
Each Saturday from 1pm to 2pm
$100.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate (Holiday) at Midway 114066OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/29 18:00From December 29, 2014 to January 1, 2015
Each Monday from Noon to 5pm
Each Tuesday from Noon to 5pm
Each Wednesday from Noon to 5pm
Each Thursday from Noon to 5pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate (Holiday) at Midway 114105OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2015/01/19 18:00January 19, 2015
Monday from Noon to 5pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate (Holiday) at Midway 114107OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2015/02/16 18:00February 16, 2015
Monday from Noon to 5pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99885OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/11/30 19:00From November 30, 2014 to March 1, 2015
Each Sunday from 1pm to 6pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99886OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/01 18:00From December 1, 2014 to February 23, 2015
Each Monday from Noon to 7pm
Except the following dates:
Monday, December 22, 2014
Monday, December 29, 2014
Monday, January 19, 2015
Monday, February 16, 2015
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99887OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/02 18:00From December 2, 2014 to February 24, 2015
Each Tuesday from Noon to 7pm
Except the following dates:
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99888OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/03 18:00From December 3, 2014 to February 25, 2015
Each Wednesday from Noon to 7pm
Except the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Plus the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from Noon to 5pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from Noon to 4pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from 6pm to 7pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99888OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/03 18:00From December 3, 2014 to February 25, 2015
Each Wednesday from Noon to 7pm
Except the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Plus the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from Noon to 5pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from Noon to 4pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from 6pm to 7pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99888OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/03 18:00From December 3, 2014 to February 25, 2015
Each Wednesday from Noon to 7pm
Except the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Plus the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from Noon to 5pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from Noon to 4pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from 6pm to 7pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99888OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/03 18:00From December 3, 2014 to February 25, 2015
Each Wednesday from Noon to 7pm
Except the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Plus the following dates:
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from Noon to 5pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from Noon to 4pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from 6pm to 7pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99889OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/12/04 18:00From December 4, 2014 to February 26, 2015
Each Thursday from Noon to 7pm
Except the following dates:
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Thursday, January 1, 2015
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99890OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/11/28 18:00From November 28, 2014 to February 27, 2015
Each Friday from Noon to 7pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99891OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/11/29 20:00From November 29, 2014 to February 28, 2015
Each Saturday from 2pm to 5pm
Except the following dates:
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Plus the following dates:
Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 4pm to 5pm
$3.00
Ice Skating - Open Skate at Midway Plaisance 99891OpenSports - SkatingAnyCoed2014/11/29 20:00From November 29, 2014 to February 28, 2015
Each Saturday from 2pm to 5pm
Except the following dates:
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Plus the following dates:
Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 4pm to 5pm
$3.00
Rat Hockey at Midway Plaisance 101081OpenSports - Hockey6 and upCoed2014/11/30 14:30From November 30, 2014 to February 22, 2015
Each Sunday from 8:30am to 10:30am
$10.00
Rat Hockey at Midway Plaisance 101082OpenSports - Hockey18 and upCoed2014/12/01 00:30From November 30, 2014 to February 22, 2015
Each Sunday from 6:30pm to 8pm
$10.00
Rat Hockey at Midway Plaisance 101079OpenSports - Hockey18 and upCoed2014/12/09 01:00From December 8, 2014 to February 16, 2015
Each Monday from 7pm to 9pm
$10.00
Rat Hockey at Midway Plaisance 101083OpenSports - Hockey18 and upCoed2014/12/11 01:00From December 10, 2014 to February 18, 2015
Each Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm
$10.00
Rat Hockey at Midway Plaisance 101084OpenSports - Hockey18 and upCoed2014/12/05 23:15From December 5, 2014 to February 20, 2015
Each Friday from 5:15pm to 6:15pm
$10.00
Rat Hockey at Midway Plaisance 101080OpenSports - Hockey6 and upCoed2014/11/29 15:30From November 29, 2014 to February 21, 2015
Each Saturday from 9:30am to 11:30am
$10.00

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Description

Located in the Hyde Park community, Midway Plaisance is a special-use ice skating rink facility which totals 83 acres and features a warming center. Green features of the park include a north and south winter garden. Outside, the park offers the ice rink and multi-purpose fields. Many spaces are available for rental including our ice rink, warming center, and fields.

Park-goers can participate in ice skating lessons, kids and adults Rat Hockey (pickup games), and special events.

In addition to programs, Midway Plaisance hosts fun special events throughout the year for the entire family, such as movies & summer concert series, Hyde Park Jazz Fest, Silver Skates speed skating competition, and Disco on the Ice.

The Midway Plaisance is a magnificent linear stretch of parkland between Jackson and Washington parks.All three sites were originally conceived as a single landscape known as SouthPark.Soon after the Illinois Legislature established the South Park Commission in 1869 to create and maintain the park, the newly-appointed commissioners hired Olmsted & Vaux, the nationally renowned designers of New York’s Central Park, to lay out the 1055-acre park.

Concerned about the flat and marshy conditions of the unimproved site, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. asserted that, “If a search had been made for the least park-like ground within miles of the city, nothing better meeting the requirement could have been found.” He believed, however, that the site possessed one important asset— its relationship with Lake Michigan.Interpreting the lake as a tremendous object of sublime scenery, Olmsted & Vaux used water as the guiding theme for the park’s original plan of 1871..

The designers envisioned an intricate system of lushly planted lagoons covering about one-third of the Lower Division (Jackson Park). This waterway would link with Lake Michigan on the east and with a smaller lagoon called the Mere at the Upper Division (Washington Park) on the west via a long formal canal and pleasure drive, accessible to people walking, riding horses (and carriages), and boating.Olmsted & Vaux named the center landscape the Midway Plaisance. (There is a French word plaisance that roughly translates to “place for boating,” however some dictionaries believe the word is an obsolete spelling of “pleasance,” a secluded part of the landscape or garden.)Despite the importance of the canal to the overall design of the park system, its construction was put on on-hold due to financial problems after the Great Fire of 1871.

Two decades later, Jackson Park was selected as the site for the World’s Columbian Exposition, and Olmsted worked closely with architect Daniel H. Burnham to transform the largely unfinished grounds into the “WhiteCity.”The fair authorities decided to use the Midway Plaisance as the site of amusements, restaurants, foreign villages, and ethnological exhibits.These attractions were allowed to charge extra, and helped the fair become a financial success.The most iconic attraction on the Midway was the world’s first Ferris wheel.Standing to a height of 264-feet, it had thirty-six cars, each with a capacity of sixty people.The twenty-minute ride made two revolutions and cost fifty cents per customer (which was the same cost as a full day admission price for the fair.)

More than twenty million people had visited the fair during the sixth month period in which it was open in 1893.After it closed, the South Park Commissioners hired Olmsted’s firm, then known as Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot, to transform the fairgrounds back into parkland.Emphasizing the great success of the electric launches, gondolas, and other types of boats at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Olmsted recommended that his vision for a canal through the Midway Plaisance canal should be considered.The commissioners instructed Olmsted to create a revised plan for the canal, and asked him to estimate the expense of the project including the cost of gondolas.They formally adopted Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot’s plan for the Midway Plaisance with the canal in 1894.

Although the South Park Commissioners negotiated with the Illinois Central Railroad Company for permission to build part of the canal on railroad right-of-way, the project was delayed again.At the time, transforming the Jackson Park fairgrounds back into usable parkland was the priority, and the canal was proving to be an expensive proposition.In addition to the costs of building the proper crossing over the train tracks and bridges over the water, the project would have also required the construction of a series of locks because of the difference in the elevations of the lagoons, and the fluctuating water levels of Lake Michigan.The canal was considered a future project, and in the meantime, the commissioners installed sewers, drives, walks, bridle paths, reconditioned the wide center lawn, and planted more than 500 elm trees in straight rows lining the driveway.

By the turn of the century, the Midway Plaisance was a popular spot for ice skating and sledding in the winter and strolling and bicycle riding in the summer.Architect Henry Ives Cobb had created the original plan for the adjacent University of Chicago campus, and designed some of the institution’s earliest Gothic style buildings.Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg had his track team train for relay races on the Midway.

Preeminent sculptor Lorado Taft established his Midway Studio out of a converted barn at 60th Street near Ellis Avenue in 1906.Two years later, he began envisioning ways to beautify the Midway Plaisance.Taft suggested implementing the canal, creating three sculptural bridges to span over it: the Bridge of the Arts, the Bridge of Sciences, and the Bridge of Religions, and lining the waterway with statues of the “world’s greatest idealists”.At the extreme ends of the broad boulevard Taft suggested two monumental sculptural fountains, the Fountain of Creation on the east end, and the Fountain of Time on the west end.

While most of Taft’s proposal was never seriously considered, the B.F. Ferguson Fund of the Art Institute agreed to commission the Fountain of Time in tribute to an 1814 peace treaty between England and the United States.Completed in 1922, the impressive monument was inspired by a poem entitled the Paradox of Time by Henry Austin Dobson.It is composed of a crag-like figure of Father Time watching over a procession of 100 human figures, with a symbolic reflecting pool in between.

In the late 1930s, Chicago Park District landscape architect May E. McAdams designed a perennial garden at the east end of the Midway Plaisance which followed the configuration of the circular sunken lawn panel— the outline of what would have become the canal’s turning basin.McAdams’ garden provided the inspiration for the 2005 Allison Davis Garden designed by landscape architect Peter Lindsay Schaudt and located on the west end of the Midway Plaisance .The new garden pays homage to renowned social anthropologist Allison Davis (1902 – 1983) a pioneering scholar who was the first tenured African-American professor at the University of Chicago.

The Chicago Park District and University of Chicago also worked together on the development of new gardens on the north side of the Midway Plaisance, the Winter Garden and the Readers’ Garden. Other recent improvements to the Midway include a rink for ice skating in the winter and in-line skating in the summer. Located in the center of the Midway just west of S. Woodlawn Ave., the rink stands on the exact location of the historic Ferris wheel.

The restoration of the Fountain of Time has been one of the most challenging and expensive of the recent improvements in the area.Expert conservator Andrzej Dajnowski began intensive studies to determine the appropriate conservation treatment for the historic concrete fountain in 1992.The $2 million project has been funded by the Chicago Park District, the Ferguson Fund of the Art Institute, a Save America’s Treasures Grant, the University of Chicago, the Parkways Foundation and private donors.Conducted in two major phases between 1998 and 2002 and between 2002 and 2009, sculptural fountain and its reflecting basin have been fully conserved, the surrounding landscape has been improved, and monument’s lighting has been upgraded.

For directions using public transportation visit www.transitchicago.com.