Portage Park is located in the Portage Park community. Portage Park warmly welcomes patrons with a decorative gateway entrance at the corner of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue and an expanse of lush landscaping. Many Chicago residents choose Portage Park for their wedding ceremonies and special outdoor occasions because of its natural, scenic beauty. The 38.18-acre park is much more than a pretty picture—it’s the site for hundreds of valuable sports, early childhood recreation and cultural programs, as well as fantastic family special events.
Portage Park offers something for every kind of play—six tennis courts, a new soft-surface ADA accessible playground, a slab for in-line skating, a new dog friends area, a bike path, a nature walk, five baseball fields, two combination football/soccer fields and two fieldhouses, one housing a gymnasium and the other a cultural arts building.
In the heat of summer, Portage Park is the place to keep cool. Its Olympic-size pool features a large deck for sunning, misting sprays, an interactive water play area with slide and diving boards. The park also contains a smaller heated pool.
For youth, programming includes an exemplary after-school program, woodcraft, recreational tumbling and gymnastics, floor and roller hockey, music, and a wide range of sports each season. Adults can get involved with a walking or senior club, stay fit with an aerobics or conditioning class, or explore their creative side with lessons in piano, concert band, or woodworking.
The park features a boxing center where boxing programs are offered for ages 8 and older. The Chicago Park District’s boxing program has produced a number of professionals including Olympians Michael Bennett, David Diaz, Nate Jones and Leroy Murphy and former champion Montell Griffin. The Chicago Park District operates 20 citywide boxing centers.
In 2003, a 6,500-square-foot senior center was created in coordination with the City of Chicago Department of Aging.
In 2011 a 3,000 square-foot dog friendly area was developed at the north west corner of the park.
Portage Park was created in 1913 by the Old Portage Park District, an independent park board formed by local citizens to enhance property values and improve their northwest side neighborhood. The name of the new park district, and that of its first and largest park, makes reference to several nearby routes used by Native Americans and fur traders to portage their canoes between the DesPlaines and Chicago Rivers. The American Park Builders Company prepared the original plan for Portage Park and completed initial construction between 1913 and 1917. The park design included a naturalistic swimming lagoon, which opened to the public in July, 1916. By the 1920s, the new park was thriving. Noted architect Clarence Hatzfeld designed a handsome prairie-style fieldhouse in 1922, followed by an attractive brick gymnasium in 1928. Portage Park quickly became the center of the community, providing athletics and team sports, cultural and club activities, festivities and special events. In 1934, the city's 22 independent park commissions were consolidated into the Chicago Park District, and the new agency soon secured federal funds through the Works Progress Administration. WPA improvements at Portage Park included additional plantings, whimsical stonework fountains and gateways, and a comfort station. WPA workers also removed the original swimming lagoon and constructed a kidney-shaped concrete pool. In 1959, the park district replaced the concrete pool with an Olympic-sized pool in preparation for hosting the Pan American Games. In 1972, Portage Park hosted the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, where Gold Medalist Mark Spitz set new world's records. In 1998, the swimming pools and plaza area were rehabilitated and an interactive water play area was created for children. The 1922 fieldhouse is now being used as a cultural center, offering art crafts, drama, music, and senior citizens programs.
4th Monday of odd numbered months, 7:00pm to 8:30p