Project to restore elements of historic 1930s landscape plan to the lakefront park
The Chicago Park District announces the construction of a new Uptown Coastal Natural Area. The six-acre restoration project will transform the turf lawn into a thriving space for people and wildlife through the planting of Illinois native prairie and savanna wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs. The ecological restoration process will create a resting stop for migratory birds, absorb and filter stormwater, and establish a place for nature observation and respite in a section of the Uptown community area that is densely populated and highly urbanized. In addition, the project will reintroduce elements of the original 1930s design by renowned landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, which called for a “naturalistic effect” that relied on native trees, shrubs, and flowers in a layered and informally arranged manner.
Crews will begin putting up fencing along the six-acres of lawn in Lincoln Park on September 7, and construction will begin as early as September 9 in Lincoln Park, west of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive, between Lawrence Avenue and Wilson Drive.
As part of the project, the sidewalks on the North, South, and West side paths and the turf along Marine Dr. will remain open. The inner path will be closed. Fencing will be removed after the establishment of native plants in late Fall/ early Winter 2023.
In 2021, the Chicago Park District received a $116,110 grant federally funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and administered through the Illinois Coastal Management Program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The grant was matched by the Park District for a total investment of $232,220.
The restoration project that replaces the existing turf lawn with native prairie and savanna plantings, begins with the removal of invasive plant species in Fall 2022, and continues with the installation of native shrubs and seed installation, and the development of interpretive signage. Mowing maintenance and additional planting of native plants will continue through Fall 2023. Existing trees and shrubs will not be removed as part of this project.
The proposed layout for plant communities in this restoration project, which includes prairie, savanna, and turf, roughly follows the landscape structure of the 1930s landscape plan. Areas of turf lawn around the existing Dr. José Rizal monument, west of the north/south pathway along Marine Drive, will remain as mowed pathways within the prairie meadow.