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On May 1, 1934, the 22 independent park districts that existed in the city of Chicago consolidated to become one, the Chicago Park District. The newly formed Park District inherited more than 130 parks, including 83 fieldhouses, 13 beaches, five golf courses, and 50 swimming pools. 

Today as the Chicago Park District celebrates 85 years of serving the city, it boasts more than 8,800 acres of parkland, more than 600 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, and nearly 50 nature areas.  

The Chicago Park District is a Gold Medal Award winner, a national symbol of excellence in park and recreation management. The Park District strives to enhance the quality of life in Chicago by providing recreation and leisure opportunities, as well as safe, inviting and beautifully maintained parks and facilities – while delivering on the needs of children and families 

Chicagoans of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life are invited to participate in this year’s 85th-anniversary celebration across the city, which will showcase the programs and facilities that make the Chicago Park District second to none.  


Join the celebration at the following events taking place the first week of May.

May 1

May 2 | 10 am-1 pm
Special Olympics Spring Games Opening Ceremony @ Soldier Field - Cancelled

May 3
Check out the 85th Anniversary themed gardens at the following parks:

  • Grant Park - East side of Buckingham Fountain 
  • Grant Park - Spirit of Music Garden (Balbo Ave. & Michigan Ave.)
  • Garfield Park - in front of the Garfield Park Fieldhouse (100 N. Central Park Ave.)
  • South Shore Cultural Center - in the entrance garden (7059 S. South Shore Dr.) 
  • Lincoln Park Conservatory - Great Garden (west of Lincoln Park Zoo off Stockton Dr.)

May 4
Saturday in the Park
From a pickup game of soccer or grilling out with friends, to a game of horseshoes with family or a dance-off with neighborhood kids – Chicagoans are invited to celebrate the Park District’s 85th Anniversary by visiting their local park and enjoying all of the activities our great city’s parks have to offer.

May 5 | 12-3 pm
Switch on Summer event @ Buckingham Fountain
Join ComEd and the Chicago Park District to watch the historic fountain officially switch on at 2 pm and enjoy free family-friendly activities and live entertainment!  Be sure to visit the Chicago Park District tent and celebrate our 85th Anniversary with a free slice of Eli's Cheesecake, while supplies last.  Learn more.

Switch On Summer at Buckingham Fountain Logo


Switch on Summer Event at Buckingham Fountain Sponsor ComEd Logo


Switch on Summer at Buckingham Fountain Event Sponsor Eli's Cheesecake Logo


May 6-10 | 8 am-4 pm
Special Olympics Spring Games @ Eckersall Stadium

June 14 - August 16 | 6:30-8 pm
85th Birthday Parties at the Movies
In celebration of the Park District's 85th Birthday, please join us for park celebrations throughout the summer happening prior to Movies in the Parks, on select Thursdays & Fridays.  Birthday fun activities will include DJ music, games, activities, food and fun for the entire family! Movie to play at dusk, following the festivities.

Thank you to the following:

Official Sponsors:

Official Sponsor Coca Cola Logo


Official Sponsor Hudsonville Ice Cream Logo


Official Sponsor Vienna Beef Logo


Event Supporter:

Event Supporter CircEsteem Logo




Chicago Park District History

Travel along through this timeline to learn more about the history of the Chicago Park District: