Located in the West Town community, Eckhart Park totals 8.85 acres and features an indoor swimming pool, meeting rooms, two gymnasiums, a fitness center and a boxing center. Outdoors, the park offers baseball diamonds, an athletic field for football and soccer, a playground with a water pray feature, and a community garden. The playground was renovated in Summer 2014 as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! Program.
Young park-goers come to Eckhart Park for gymnastics, swim lessons and to join the Eckhart Panthers Junior Bear football and cheerleading teams. Youth attend Day Camp in the summer, as well as year-round therapeutic recreation programs. Adults participate in a range of activities, including aquatic classes, boxing and seasonal sports, and parents gather at Eckhart Park with their preschoolers for Bitty Basketball and other classes and activities for younger children.
In addition to programs, Eckhart Park hosts fun special events for the whole family, such as Movies in the Park, concerts, plays and other Night Out in the Parks events.
The West Park Commission created Eckhart Park in 1907 to provide breathing space and social services for one of the overcrowded immigrant neighborhoods the commission served.
Two years earlier, a revolutionary system of ten neighborhood parks had opened on the city’s South Side. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers and D.H. Burnham & Co., these innovative parks not only provided landscape amenities, but also public bathing, branches of the Chicago Public Library, classes and vocational training, inexpensive hot meals, health care, and a variety of recreational programs.
Eckhart Park was among the first in a system of small West Side parks authorized by state legislation in 1905. The park takes its name from Bernard A. Eckhart (1852-1931), who played a prominent role in the neighborhood parks movement.
Eckhart, president of the West Park Commission from 1905 through 1908, hired landscape architect Jens Jensen as General Superintendent for the West Park System. Jensen went on to become known as the Dean of the Prairie style of landscape architecture.
In 1907, Jensen began designing Eckhart Park as one of the first three small parks planned by the West Chicago Park Commissioners to provide breathing space and social services for the congested tenement districts within their jurisdiction.
Eckhart Park’s 8-acre site presented Jensen with a major challenge. His initial plan of 1907 illustrates that he began with a rigid and formal layout in order to incorporate all of the ambitious program components. He later modified the plan to provide a looser organization of space, with activities integrated throughout.
Eckhart Park’s final plan included a playground, open-air gymnasiums, a swimming Pool with a Prairie style bridge separating the deep and shallow ends, and community gardens where children could learn to plant and tend their plots. It also included a handsome brick field house and natatorium designed by William Carbys Zimmerman who then served as the State Architect for Illinois.
First Saturday of the month at 9am.
1330 W. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60642