Located in the North Lawndale community, Franklin Park totals 8.4 acres and features a fieldhouse with a kitchen, gymnasium and meeting rooms. Outside, the park features a swimming pool, refurbished basketball courts with the Nike logo, an athletic field for soccer and football, playgrounds and an interactive water spray feature.
Many of these spaces are available for rental, including the basketball courts.
Park-goers come to Franklin Park to play basketball, baseball and swim at the facility. After school programs are offered throughout the school year, and in the summer youth attend the Park District’s popular six-week day camp.
In addition to programs, Franklin Park hosts fun special events throughout the year for the whole family, such as gym showcases, holiday parties and Back to School community gatherings.
In 1914, renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen presented a plan for Franklin Park that was considered a "radical change" from earlier neighborhood parks. An innovative system of south side parks had inspired the West Park Commission to begin creating its own neighborhood parks in 1907. The small sites and numerous space requirements limited Jensen's ability to incorporate naturalistic elements.
After several years of experimentation, Jensen created Franklin Park, evocative of the native Illinois landscape, though only 8.5 acres in size. Minimizing the amount of space devoted to indoor facilities, Jensen included playing fields enclosed by native plantings, a bird garden, and a shady "old folks corner." Irregularly-shaped pools with rocky ledges emulated country swimming holes. In the "spirit of Indian lore," the park also had an area for a campfire on the player's green, an elevated "clearing" used for outdoor dramatics and small gatherings.
Despite Jensen's intention to devote the park primarily to outdoor activities, there were increasing demands for additional indoor facilities. In 1926, the park's original fieldhouse was expanded to meet these needs, but demand continued to grow. Finally, in 1972, the Chicago Park District replaced the original building with a larger, modern fieldhouse. In addition, changing recreational needs unfortunately led to the demise of Franklin Park's historic landscape elements.
The park honors inventor, author, and American patriot, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Having begun his career as a printer, Franklin became editor and owner of the Philadelphia Gazette. After inventing the Franklin stove in 1744, he conducted the earliest studies identifying lightning as electricity, including the famous kite-flying experiment. As a member of the Continental Congress, Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence. Franklin served as Ambassador to France, and later as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
Every 2nd Saturday of the month at 2pm