Whether you are looking to relax on the sandy beach soaking in some rays or getting active our beaches are a great summer destination right in the middle of a bustling Chicago. Doria Beach Park totals 0.95 acres.
Formerly known as Columbia Beach Park.
Formerly known as Columbia Beach Park, the Chicago Park District acquired this property in 1966. As there is no earlier record of an established beach where Columbia Avenue meets Lake Michigan, the site may have been a private beach prior to the park district's acquisition. The city's Bureau of Parks and Recreation also had operated small municipal beaches along Chicago's north shore since at least 1921. Columbia Avenue takes its name from New York's Columbia University, established in 1794. Columbia University (then College) was the alma mater of A.W. Wallen, the real estate developer who subdivided the section of Rogers Park in which the street and its namesake beach are located.
In 2016, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners renamed Columbia Beach Park in honor of Helen Doria. The naming was requested by numerous organizations and individuals, including the Loyola Park Advisory Council, Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, with the support of several elected officials. Helen Doria (1951 – 2012) devoted her life to enriching Chicago with strong cultural programs that unified individuals, groups, and neighborhoods throughout the city. The oldest of eight children, Helen was born and raised in Chicago. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Mundelein College in 1973, she began her career as a grass root activist in Rogers Park. While serving as an aide to then 49th Ward Alderman David Orr, she assisted the Chicago Park District on the acquisition of the Berger Park mansions and development of the Cultural Center. She went on to work for the City of Chicago’s Department of Special Events and Department of Cultural Affairs, spearheading such initiatives as the Sister City’s program. She then joined the staff of the Chicago Park District and brought new life to the district’s cultural programming. Her rich cultural art legacy includes establishing the arts partners in residency program in park field houses, creating mini-festivals that introduced thousands of Chicagoans to the varied cultures in their own neighborhoods, and bringing excellent arts programming such as theater, music, dance, and visual arts to park patrons throughout the city. In 2004, Helen Doria became the first Executive Director of Millennium Park and she helped make the new park an exciting and democratic space with a broad array of activities and offerings for Chicagoans and visitors. She was instrumental in initiating the Made in Chicago: World Class Concert Series that continues in Millennium Park today. Toward the end of her life, Helen became a consultant on arts, culture and public spaces, taking a lead role in development of the 606 and working with businesses, not-for-profit organizations and governmental agencies to make the arts an accessible part of urban life. She served on the Board of Directors of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School and also received many honors including inspiring the Illinois Association of Park Districts to establish the Helen Doria Arts in the Park Award.