Located in the heart of Lincoln Square at Lincoln and Montrose Avenues sits the 15.84-acre Welles Park, a gathering place for musicians and sports and fitness enthusiasts of all kinds. Many residents enjoy the park’s indoor pool—using it year-round for lap swims, instruction, and aqua exercise. Others visit Welles Park’s fitness center for a workout, while some prefer a leisurely game of horseshoes at the park’s outdoor pits.
The Chicago Park District installed and unveiled a green, wrought-iron, European-style gazebo on the west side of the park as a centerpiece for the Lincoln Square community. Equipped with electricity for lights and sound, the gazebo is used for outdoor concerts, storytelling and other performances.
In Spring 2010 the park district unveiled a new action packed ADA accessible/softsurface playground for community children. On the many fields at Welles Park, one can find baseball, softball, track and field, and football. Preschoolers get involved in tot soccer, floor hockey, tumbling and various play groups, while older children can participate in tumbling, arts & crafts, swimming and many sports. Welles Park also provides activities for adults and children who are developmentally disabled through its therapeutic recreation programs.
One of five parks created by the Lincoln Park Commission and named for a member of President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet, Welles Park honors Gideon Welles (1802-1878), Secretary of the Navy from 1861 to 1869. Since the Lincoln Park Commission's formation in 1869, its primary responsibility was to improve and manage Lincoln Park and its connecting boulevards. By 1908, the commissioners were impressed with new neighborhood parks on Chicago's south and west sides, and began efforts to create similar parks on the city's north side. In 1910, the Lincoln Park Commission transformed an initial 8-acre site into Welles Park. The commissioners began leasing a large property just east of the park in 1922, and several years later they purchased the additional acreage to permanently enlarge Welles Park. A small fieldhouse opened in Welles Park in 1915. This was replaced by a modern facility in 1970. In the 1920s, Abe Saperstein (1902-1966) began his career as a basketball coach in the Welles Park fieldhouse. Saperstein soon recruited south side African-American basketball players to play at a Jewish youth center in the Maxwell Street neighborhood. In 1927, he began coaching a semi-professional black basketball team. Known as the Savoy Big Five, because they played twice a week at the south side Savoy Ballroom. Saperstein soon took the team on the road, driving the players in his own Model T Ford. He renamed the team the Harlem Globetrotters to suggest an all-black travelling team. Saperstein encouraged the players to do trick moves with the basketball, and they became the one of the world's most entertaining and well-known basketball teams. In 1971, Abe Saperstein was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
For directions using public transportation visit www.transitchicago.com.
Free street parking available around the park. Parking is limited; therefore, public transportation is highly encouraged.
Meetings are held the 2nd Monday of the month Jan, Mar, May, July, Sept, Nov @ 7pm
Out of an abundance of caution Park Advisory Council Meetings will be held virtually for the near future. Please contact the Welles PAC for details.