Teddy Roosevelt once said that Jacob A. Riis came nearer than anyone to being "the ideal American." Riis (1849-1914), a photojournalist and reformer, drew national attention to the plight of the inner-city poor through his expose, How the Other Half Lives. Riis advocated the creation of small playgrounds to provide "breathing spaces" for densely-populated urban neighborhoods. His 1898 speech at Chicago's Hull House inspired local reformers to petition for city playgrounds. By the time the Northwest Park District created Riis Park in 1916, the playground movement Riis had helped to inspire had in turn fueled park-building across the nation. The park district designed Riis Park to provide a broad range of recreational amenities for its developing middle class neighborhood. The park remained essentially undeveloped until 1928, however, when the park district installed a ski jump and golf course, and commissioned locally-prominent architect Walter W. Alschlager to design a fieldhouse. In 1934, Riis Park came under the jurisdiction of the Chicago Park District, which used Works Progress Administration funding for further improvements. Riis Park developed in two distinct halves separated by a steep glacial ridge, a remnant of the shoreline of Lake Chicago. To the east stood the Georgian-revival fieldhouse, surrounded by various other athletic facilities. Respected landscape architect Alfred Caldwell designed the western portion of the park. Caldwell's plan, fully implemented by 1940, incorporated naturalistic plantings; a stone-edged lagoon; shady, enclosed areas; and a broad, sunny meadow.
1st Tuesday of the month @ 11am