North Park Village Nature Center

  • 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.   Chicago, Illinois 60646 [View Map]
  • Park Hours:
  • Park Supervisor: Julie Sacco
  • Phone: (312) 744-5472

North Park Village Nature Center features a 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility, which are situated within the 155-acre North Park Village campus. The nature preserve offers trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna. A discovery room, a hands-on table of natural objects, and interactive displays are highlights of the Nature Center.

There are public programs for preschoolers, school age children, families and adults. EcoExplorers summer day camp focuses on nature-based games and learning activities for children aged 5-14 years old. Neighborhood Naturalists is a special outreach program serving third graders in Chicago Public Schools. Volunteers find many ways to express their interests at the Nature Center, including helping lead field trips, assisting during festivals, greeting visitors at the reception desk, and participating in ecological restoration efforts.

The mission of North Park Village Nature Center is to provide visitors with an opportunity to interact with and learn about wildlife and natural resources in an urban setting. There are programs, events and activities for all ages to enjoy while discovering our shared natural heritage at the first nature center within the city of Chicago. Open 7 days a week (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays) from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem. 

History

The Nature Center is often described as a hidden gem in the city. But this site was well known to generations before us, and clues to how people used the land can be found here. The wild onion and wild leek growing in wet woods here inspired American Indians to name this area the “land of the stinking onion” which was translated to “Chicago” by European settlers. In the early 1800s, farmers drained the wet areas to plant crops. And in the late 1800s, a tree nursery was established under the ownership of Norwegian immigrant Pehr Petersen. The very successful Mr. Peterson provided all the trees and shrubs for the World’s Fair in 1893, most of the trees in Lincoln Park and up to seven-eighths of all the trees planted in Chicago’s parkways and boulevards by 1910.

In 1911, Chicago acquired the land from Peterson’s family and used 158 acres to create the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. This buffer of nature was used to prevent the disease from spreading, and to heal the patients admitted here. Portions of the land were changed into paths, gardens for growing food, fields to play and a pond for recreation. The building that would become the Nature Center was originally the Sanitarium’s dispensary, where certain patients could come to get their medications. Patients were here into the 1970s when the Sanitarium was closed.

In the 1980s, plans were to raze the land and construct strip malls and condominiums. However, community activists rallied against these plans, ushering in the preservation of North Park Village. In 1989, an easement was enacted to prohibit any development of this property and to define how it was to be maintained as a natural area for 75 years. Efforts are being made by today’s community activists to extend this protection into perpetuity.

Now, in a short stroll, visitors can experience a forest, a prairie, wetland and oak savanna. And in the 1980s, a sweet new tradition was begun: the Maple Syrup Festival, which taps into the very trees that Pehr Peterson planted more than a century ago. Eventually, programming and visits to the Nature Center grew with additional events such as the Harvest Festival, Winter Solstice, and City Wilds Fest.

On April 1, 2004 the Nature Center became part of the Chicago Park District. Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem.

Parking/Directions

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

North Park Village Birding Area

North Park Village Birding Area

Location: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Path and Trail

North Park Village Path and Trail

Location: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Prairie/Grassland

North Park Village Prairie/Grassland

Location: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Savanna and Woodland

North Park Village Savanna and Woodland

Location: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Wetland

North Park Village Wetland

Location: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

Events

SEP
5

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
7

Monarch Palooza! at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
8

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
11

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
17

Armchair Expeditions at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
17

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
19

Campfire Storytime at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
21

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
9

Autumn Stroll at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
11

Eagle Optix at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
15

Armchair Expeditions at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
18

Harvest Festival at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
19

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
24

Campfire Storytime at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
3

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
5

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
11

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
14

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
18

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
19

Armchair Expeditions at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
20

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
22

Adult Telabration at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
22

Family Telabration at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
22

Invertebrates at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
23

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
24

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

DEC
2

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

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
Yoga at North Park Village 86211InstructionWellness - Yoga18 and upCoedFrom July 6, 2014 to September 28, 2014
Each Sunday from 9:30am to 10:30am
Free

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Photos & Videos

Reviews

Description

North Park Village Nature Center features a 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility, which are situated within the 155-acre North Park Village campus. The nature preserve offers trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna. A discovery room, a hands-on table of natural objects, and interactive displays are highlights of the Nature Center.

There are public programs for preschoolers, school age children, families and adults. EcoExplorers summer day camp focuses on nature-based games and learning activities for children aged 5-14 years old. Neighborhood Naturalists is a special outreach program serving third graders in Chicago Public Schools. Volunteers find many ways to express their interests at the Nature Center, including helping lead field trips, assisting during festivals, greeting visitors at the reception desk, and participating in ecological restoration efforts.

The mission of North Park Village Nature Center is to provide visitors with an opportunity to interact with and learn about wildlife and natural resources in an urban setting. There are programs, events and activities for all ages to enjoy while discovering our shared natural heritage at the first nature center within the city of Chicago. Open 7 days a week (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays) from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem. 

SEP
5

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
7

Monarch Palooza! at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
8

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
11

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
17

Armchair Expeditions at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
17

Inside a Hive at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
19

Campfire Storytime at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
21

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
9

Autumn Stroll at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
11

Eagle Optix at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
15

Armchair Expeditions at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
18

Harvest Festival at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
19

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
24

Campfire Storytime at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
3

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
5

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
11

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
14

Life of a Leaf at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
18

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
19

Armchair Expeditions at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
20

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
22

Adult Telabration at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
22

Family Telabration at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
22

Invertebrates at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
23

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
24

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

DEC
2

Slow Down Chipmunks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

 

FACILITIES

FACILITY TYPE ADDRESS DESCRIPTOR QTY NOTES
Birding Area 5801 N. Pulaski Rd. 1
Nature Center 5801 N. Pulaski Rd. 0
Paths and Trails 5801 N. Pulaski Rd. 1
Prairies & Grasslands 5801 N. Pulaski Rd. 1
Savannas and Woodlands 5801 N. Pulaski Rd. 1
Wetlands 5801 N. Pulaski Rd. 1

The Nature Center is often described as a hidden gem in the city. But this site was well known to generations before us, and clues to how people used the land can be found here. The wild onion and wild leek growing in wet woods here inspired American Indians to name this area the “land of the stinking onion” which was translated to “Chicago” by European settlers. In the early 1800s, farmers drained the wet areas to plant crops. And in the late 1800s, a tree nursery was established under the ownership of Norwegian immigrant Pehr Petersen. The very successful Mr. Peterson provided all the trees and shrubs for the World’s Fair in 1893, most of the trees in Lincoln Park and up to seven-eighths of all the trees planted in Chicago’s parkways and boulevards by 1910.

In 1911, Chicago acquired the land from Peterson’s family and used 158 acres to create the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. This buffer of nature was used to prevent the disease from spreading, and to heal the patients admitted here. Portions of the land were changed into paths, gardens for growing food, fields to play and a pond for recreation. The building that would become the Nature Center was originally the Sanitarium’s dispensary, where certain patients could come to get their medications. Patients were here into the 1970s when the Sanitarium was closed.

In the 1980s, plans were to raze the land and construct strip malls and condominiums. However, community activists rallied against these plans, ushering in the preservation of North Park Village. In 1989, an easement was enacted to prohibit any development of this property and to define how it was to be maintained as a natural area for 75 years. Efforts are being made by today’s community activists to extend this protection into perpetuity.

Now, in a short stroll, visitors can experience a forest, a prairie, wetland and oak savanna. And in the 1980s, a sweet new tradition was begun: the Maple Syrup Festival, which taps into the very trees that Pehr Peterson planted more than a century ago. Eventually, programming and visits to the Nature Center grew with additional events such as the Harvest Festival, Winter Solstice, and City Wilds Fest.

On April 1, 2004 the Nature Center became part of the Chicago Park District. Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem.

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