This small park is located in the Kenwood Community. The park is 0.31 acres and it features a playground that was renovated in Summer 2016 as part of the Chicago Plays! Program.
While there is no structured programming taking place at this location, we invite you to check out our great programs offered at nearby Kennicott Park for recreation.
The Chicago Park District began creating this park in 1960. It was officially named Beach Park in 1974, when a number of properties were named for trees and plants. In 2005 it was renamed Vivian Gordon Harsh Park as part of an effort by the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners to recognize the contributions of Chicago women.
Vivian Gordon Harsh (1890 – 1960) was a librarian who established research collections related to African American history well before the public became aware of this topic and its importance. Harsh received a degree from Simmons College Library School in Boston and in 1924, she was the first African American ever appointed as the head librarian for a branch of the Chicago Public Library. Many prominent African Americans believed that blacks on Chicago’s south side were underserved by the library system, and in the 1920s, a movement was underway to open a full service branch in Bronzeville.
Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who agreed to help finance the new library, awarded Harsh a traveling scholarship that allowed her to visit African American collections in other cities. The branch opened in 1932. It was named for Dr. George Cleveland Hall, Chief of Staff at Provident Hospital, who had served on the Chicago Public Library board of directors and pushed for the south side branch library to be built. Harsh continued to work for the Chicago Public Library for more than twenty-five years.
This park is less than a mile from Harsh’s childhood home was located at 536 E. 44th Street.