Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, Bessie Coleman Park totals 0.55 acres and is a recreational destination enjoyed by park patrons and their families.This park contains a playground with swings, slides, climbing equipment, and a water spray feature for those hot summer days.
The Chicago Park District acquired this property from the City of Chicago in 1979. The Chicago Park District improved the Drexel Avenue park site with playground equipment, a sand box, a spray pool, and curving planted areas. On the east side of the park, a slide was inventively built into the side of a hill. In 1990, the park district thoroughly rehabilitated the property, removing the playground equipment and slide, and installing new soft surface playground areas.
Officially named Willow Park in 1973, the property was renamed as part of a Chicago Park District effort to honor the contributions of significant Chicago women in 2005. Bessie Coleman (1896- 1926) was the nation’s first female African American pilot. She worked as a manicurist in a barbershop across the street from Comiskey Park and later ran a chili parlor at 35th and Indiana Ave. After learning from her brother John, who was a veteran, that there were women pilots in Europe, she decided to become a pilot. She went to flight school in France and became the first African American to hold an international pilot license. Bessie Coleman performed various flight stunts in exhibitions in the US and abroad, and campaigned against the segregation of audiences to these exhibitions. Although she was a celebrity throughout the nation, and frequently lectured to black audiences, she never achieved her dream of opening her own flight school. There is a group of African American women pilots known as the Bessie Coleman Aviators Club. A portion of O’Hare and a Chicago Public Library are named after Coleman. It 1995, the US Post Office issued a stamp in her honor. Coleman lived at 41st and South Park Ave. (now Martin Luther King Drive) approximately 2 ½ miles from the park site.