In 1872, when developers were platting the early suburb of Morgan Park, they set aside nearly three acres of property on Prospect Avenue as parkland. In 1905, the Village of Morgan Park transferred the property to the Calumet Park District, one of 19 neighborhood park boards created after 1895 to supplement the original three park districts, the South, the West, and the Lincoln Park Commissions. In 1906, the Calumet Park District officially designated the park, originally known as Prospect Park, Prospect Gardens. At the same time, the District adopted a park plan designed by noted landscape architect Jens Jensen, who was then General Superintendent of the West Park Commission and also ran a thriving private practice. Among Jensen's creations was a lily pond begun in 1909. The following year, the park district expanded the park by purchasing a small triangular tract adjoining Prospect Gardens. The Chicago Park District took control of Prospect Gardens in 1934, when the 22 park boards were consolidated into a unified district.
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