This small playground is located in the Austin community. The park features a water feature and a playground that was renovated in Summer 2016 as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! Program.
While there is no structured programming taking place at this location, we invite you to check out our great programs offered at nearby Austin Town Hall Park.
In 1865, Henry W. Austin (1828-1889) purchased 280 acres of poorly-drained prairie land in Cicero Township. Within the next few years, Austin subdivided the area, laid out streets, and planted trees, calling the new development Austinville. Twenty years later, in December 1885, Henry Austin and his wife Martha donated three large lots in what was by then the Town of Cicero for use as a public park.
Austin Park became Chicago's responsibility in 1899, after the area was annexed to the city. In 1906, noted landscape architect and Special Park Commission member Jens Jensen drew up a plan for the long, narrow site along the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad embankment. The park's most notable landscape feature was a meandering lagoon, with boys' and girls' wading pools and a wooden bridge at one end, and small wooded islands at the other. In 1908, the Special Park Commission added a dressing room facility with a 10-foot pergola and electric lights for night swimming.
The lagoon was heavily used from the first. In 1910, the Special Park Commission invited underprivileged children from the city's settlement houses to use the wading pools, providing them with free bathing suits. Fifty-five thousand children used the wading pools during the summer of 1915. By 1930, attendance had increased to nearly 90,000. In the wintertime, children also ice skated on the frozen lagoons.
The city transferred Austin Park to the Chicago Park District in 1959. By this time, the lagoon had deteriorated, and the park district soon filled in the eastern section. At the lagoon's west end, the park district transformed the boys' and girls' wading pools into a wading pool and spray pool, and constructed a new changing facility. In 1992, the park district installed the first soft surface playground where the eastern portion of the lagoon once lay.