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A new environmental center, designed by Valerio Dewalt Train, offers an ideal gateway to this reclaimed landscape

Carl Sandburg’s Chicago was not a pretty place, but when he wrote his famous poem in 1916, he nonetheless took pride in all the loud and dirty “shoveling” and “wrecking” that made the city a powerhouse. Today, Chicagoans are as proud of their green spaces as the poet was of industry and hog butchering.

It’s no wonder, as the Chicago Park District has been instrumental in transforming dead zones into people-friendly places of recreation. Millennium Park and the 606 are the most obvious examples of the city’s destination parks. Lesser known, but arguably one of the District’s more ambitious efforts when it comes to reclaiming the landscape, is Big Marsh Park, a 297-acre expanse on the Southeast Side.

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