John "Beans" Beniac Greenway Park is 7.68 acres and is located in the East Side community. This is a great destination for families to spend their time enjoying nature and the city.
In the late 1990s, the Chicago Park District participated in a unique partnership with the City of Chicago, Cook County, suburban communities, State of Illinois, and CorLands (the real estate affiliate of the Open Lands Project of Chicago) to create linear park in Chicago’s East Side Community. The goal was to transform an abandoned stretch of Penn Central Railroad Company right-of-way into a greenway with a bicycle path. Decades earlier, John “Beans” Beniac (1926- 1994), who lived across from the railway property, had become frustrated by the site’s unkempt appearance. After Beniac recovered from open heart surgery in the 1970s, he needed to keep busy, so he began cleaning up the site. He mowed the knee-high grass, pulled weeks, and removed wheelbarrows filled with old tires, junk, and debris. Later, he added benches, trees, and a bocce court. Neighbors began joining him with the work, and they soon held cookouts and other community gatherings there. In 1997, the Chicago Park District officially acquired the 7.7-acre property, including the stretch tended by Beniac. This became a one-mile portion of a new 10-mile trail system that stretches from Calumet Park to forest preserves and parks in the south suburbs. The long term goal is to have this 10-mile area to serve as a link in the 475-mile Grand Illinois Trail. Although the site was nicknamed the “Burnham Greenway” because Chicago’s famous planner Daniel H. Burnham included greenways in his 1909 Plan of Chicago, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners decided to name the park in honor of its long term steward in 2013. Today, John “Beans” Beniac Greenway Park has a multi-use trail edged by native plantings and shade trees.