Marion Mahony Griffin Beach Park located at Jarvis Avenue at Lake Michigan, is formerly known as Jarvis Beach. 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. There is limited street parking available nearby. The park is 1.04 acres.
In 2015, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners renamed Jarvis Beach Park in honor of Marion Mahony Griffin, an internationally significant architect who, until recently, had been largely forgotten. The ½-acre site was one of two dozen street end beaches that were operated by the city’s Bureau of Parks and Recreation in the 1920s. Although lifeguards manned these small municipal beaches, they had no changing rooms or other facilities. In the early twentieth century, the small beaches were especially important because they provided open space and lake access to Rogers Park’s growing population. Like other street-end beaches, Jarvis Beach Park had taken its name from the adjacent street. In this case, the roadway honors R.J. Jarvis. Chicago’s City Council renamed a street previously called Bryan Avenue in 1913. Despite the renaming, little is known about R.J. Jarvis. The New York Times described Marion Mahony Griffin (1871–1961) as “Heroine of Chicago Architecture.” Born in Chicago and raised in Winnetka, Illinois, Marion Mahony received a degree in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1894 and began her career in office of her cousin, Prairie School architect Dwight Heald Perkins. The following year, Marion found employment with Frank Lloyd Wright and soon played an important role in his office. She helped design of some of Wright’s most significant commissions and produced exquisite drawings of his work that wove architecture and nature together in a unique way. When Wright abruptly abandoned his studio in 1909, Marion Mahony completed several of his unfinished architectural commissions. Marion married Walter Burley Griffin, another successful Prairie School architect, in 1911. Marion and Walter began practicing together, and soon entered a competition to design Australia’s new capital, Canberra. Marion Mahony Griffin produced extraordinary renderings for their submission. The couple won first prize and moved to Australia in 1914 where they helped oversee the execution of the Canberra Plan and also received many other commissions to design architecture throughout the country. In the late 1930s, the Griffins moved to India and continued practicing architecture together. When Walter Burley Griffin died suddenly in 1937, Marion returned briefly to Australia, but then decided to come home to Chicago. She lived on W. Estes Avenue for the remainder of her life. During these years, Marion Mahony Griffin continued practicing architecture and also wrote a beautifully illustrated memoir entitled “Magic of America.” Among extant examples of Marion Mahony Griffin’s work in Chicago is a two panel mural in Armstrong School, a public elementary school in the West Rogers Park community.