Please note: the southern 40-acres of Northerly Island is currently under construction and not accessible to the public. Learn more about the exciting changes taking shape in this space.
Northerly Island is a 91- acre peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan at the heart of the Museum Campus. It is located just south of the Adler Planetarium and east of Soldier Field. The majority of this space is dedicated to nature! The nature area at Northerly Island features beautiful strolling paths, casual play areas and a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. It is also home to some of the best fishing in Chicago.
During the winter and early spring (November - April), the Northerly Island fieldhouse is open on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 am to 4 pm. The rest of the year, the fieldhouse is open daily, from 9am to 5pm. When the fieldhouse is open, staff is available to answer questions about the island and provide information on a discovery tour.
The FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island is located at the northern end of the island. The 2013 season brought a variety of improvements and expansions to this popular lakefront facility, including an upgraded stage, expanded state-of-the-art sound and lights, new seating and more grassy space throughout the venue. The newly redeveloped lawn now allows for flexible capacity up to 30,000 patrons while still offering sweeping panoramic views of Chicago’s lakefront. Since its opening night featuring Earth, Wind and Fire in 2007, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion has brought a wealth of talent to the beautiful park-like setting of Northerly Island. Check out the 2014 schedule and purchase tickets at LiveNation.com.
Chicago's famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham imagined Northerly Island as one of the northernmost points in a series of manmade islands stretching between Grant and Jackson Parks. His vision for this park included lagoons, harbors, beaches, recreation areas, a scenic drive and grand stretches of green space that would provide breathtaking views of the lake and City skyline. Northerly Island and Burnham Park were selected as the site of Chicago's second World's Fair entitled A Century of Progress, 1933-34, and by the early 1930s, Northerly Island had been increased to its present size. In 1938, the Chicago Park District removed the bridge leading to Northerly Island and built a causeway connecting the island to Burnham Park. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Northerly Island featured paths and walkways, scattered trees and grass, a parking lot and the 12th Street Beach. In 1947, a small airport known as Meigs Field opened under the Exposition Authority Act. Operations at Meigs expanded with the building of an air control tower in 1952. The 50-year lease granted by the park district for Meigs Field expired on September 30, 1996. The City, Park District, and numerous civic organizations agreed that the airport should revert to parkland. Today, Daniel Burnham’s vision is now a reality. With wild prairie grasses taking root, beautiful strolling paths, casual play areas, and a spectacular view of the City skyline, we invite you to come out and enjoy the emerging world of Northerly Island.
For directions using public transportation visit www.transitchicago.com.