This park totals 7.23 acres and is located in the Near West Side Community Area. It is a passive community park adjacent to the University of Illinois campus.
While there is no structured programming taking place at this location, we invite you to check out our great programs offered at nearby Sheridan Park for recreation on the artificial turf baseball field and get in shape in the indoor pool.
Arrigo Park, known as Vernon Park for much of its history, dates to 1859, when real estate developer Henry D. Gilpin donated the property to the City of Chicago. The City soon created a shaded "breathing spot" with an artificial lake and a few benches.
In 1871, the modest residences surrounding Vernon Park fell to the flames of the Chicago Fire. Commercial institutions and transient rooming houses took their place. The park had deteriorated into a boggy mess as surrounding streets and structures were raised up to improve sewage removal and prevent flooding.
When the City transferred control and maintenance of Vernon Park to the West Park Commission in 1885, rehabilitation began immediately. To alleviate the drainage problem, the Commission filled the artificial lake and raised the ground level of the entire site with additional fill. In 1893, the Commission undertook extensive landscape improvements and electrified the park. In 1934, with the consolidation of the 22 park districts into one, the Chicago Park District, Vernon Park came under the control and management of the new District. In 1957, the Chicago Park District acquired title to the property pursuant to the Chicago Park and City Exchange of Functions Act. In 1972, the City of Chicago conveyed adjacent property to the Chicago Park District for expansion of the park.
In 1974, Vernon Park was officially renamed Arrigo Park in honor of Victor Arrigo (1908-1973). A vocal advocate for the Italian-American community, Arrigo served as Illinois State Representative for Chicago's near southwest side from 1966 to 1973.
Arrigo was instrumental in bringing sculptor Moses Ezekiel's statue of Christopher Columbus to the park in 1966. First exhibited in the Italian pavilion at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, the bronze figure later graced a second-story alcove on State Street's Columbus Memorial Building.
After the building came down in 1959, the statue went into storage. Arrigo argued that Columbus should find a new home in the City's oldest continuously Italian-American neighborhood, which was then experiencing wrenching transformation due to the construction of the University of Illinois' Circle Campus.
2nd Monday of the month @ 6pm @ Sheridan