Located in the Woodlawn area, Lorraine Hansberry Park totals 0.73 acres and it is an idyllic location for families to spend a portion of their day relaxing , enjoying nature and the outdoor.
The population of Chicago's south side Washington Park community increased by 29% during the Depression and World War II. Many of the new arrivals were African-Americans from the rural south. Others moved to Washington Park from the nearby Grand Boulevard neighborhood, Chicago's original Black Belt. During the mid-1950s, the city purchased a quarter-acre property to provide additional recreational space for the growing community. The city's Bureau of Parks and Recreation soon installed playground equipment and a basketball court. The City of Chicago transferred this site, originally known as Indiana & 56th Park, to the Chicago Park District in 1959, along with more than 250 other properties. Due to neighborhood population decline and the park's proximity to Washington Park, the park district periodically considered selling off the small playlot. The agency eventually decided to keep the site and improve it, removing the basketball court, planting new trees, and rehabilitating the playground in the mid-1990s. As part of an initiative to recognize the contributions of Chicago women, the park district renamed the site in honor of Lorraine Hansberry in 2004. Hansberry (1930 – 1965) was an important African American playwright. She was born on the south side of Chicago and educated at Engelwood High School, where she became president of the debating club in 1947. During her early childhood, Lorraine’s father challenged housing restrictions by purchasing a home in an all white neighborhood and participating in a lawsuit against housing restrictions. The family suffered discrimination and racial violence, a theme that later influenced her work. Lorraine attended the University of Wisconsin, the Art Institute of Chicago, Roosevelt University and also pursued studies in Mexico. In 1950, she moved to New York and became a reporter for Paul Robeson’s periodical, known as Freedom. In 1956, she wrote A Raisin in the Sun, which won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of theYear in 1959. She was the youngest person and first African American person to win this prestigious award. Although she died at the young age of thirty-four, Lorraine had completed several other plays including The Sign in Sidney Brunstein’s Window, Les Blancs, and the Drinking Gourd. During her high school years, Lorraine lived at 5936 S. Parkway (now Dr. Martin Luther King Drive) only about ½ mile away from Indiana and 56th Park.