Located in the heart of the Humboldt Park Community, Humboldt Park totals 197.26 acres and is home to a large, historic fieldhouse with a fitness center, two gymnasiums and meeting rooms, as well as an inland beach and the historic lagoons and boat house.
Recreational facilities at the park include an artificial turf soccer field, a junior soccer field, baseball fields, tennis courts and a replica of the Chicago Cubs stadium known as “Little Cubs Field." The park is home to several playgrounds that were recently renovated as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! Program.
With the support of the community, Puerto Rican leaders in Chicago began leasing the historic Humboldt Park stables near Paseo Boricua. This landmark location now houses The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. It is the only museum in the nation that is completely dedicated to the history of Puerto Rican arts and culture.
Many of these spaces are available for rental. The grand ballroom in the field house is a popular location for wedding receptions and graduation parties. The outdoor soccer fields and Little Cubs Field frequently host competitive sports tournaments.
Park-goers come to Humboldt to enjoy baseball, soccer and tennis, as well as fishing by the lagoon. On the cultural side, Humboldt Park is host to the Latin Jazz Festival and the Puerto Rican Festival. The park is also the site of a wind turbine filtration system for the lagoons.
After school programs are offered throughout the school year, and in the summer, youth attend the Park District’s popular six-week day camp. Specialty camps are offered in the summer as well, including baseball camp.
In addition to programs, Humboldt Park hosts fun special events throughout the year for the whole family, including Shakespeare in the Park, Movies in the Park and other Night Out in the Parks special events.
The park was named for Alexander Von Humboldt, a German naturalist and geographer famed for his five-volume work Cosmos: Draft of a Physical Description of the World, though his single visit to the United States did not include Chicago. The creation of Humboldt and several other Westside parks is a key part of Chicago's history that provided beautiful green space and linked together the city's historic boulevard system.
In 1869, shortly after the creation of the West Park System, neighborhood residents requested that the northernmost park be named in honor of Baron Freidrich Heinrich Alexander Von Humboldt (1759-1859), the famous German scientist and explorer. Two years later, completed plans for the entire ensemble of Humboldt, Garfield, and Douglas parks and connecting boulevards were completed by William Le Baron Jenney, who is best known today as the father of the skyscraper.
Having studied engineering in Paris during the construction of that city's grand park and boulevard system in the 1850s, Jenney was influenced by French design. The construction of Humboldt Park was slow, however, and the original plan was followed only for the park's northeastern section.
Jens Jensen, a Danish immigrant who had begun as a laborer, worked his way up to Superintendent of Humboldt Park in the mid-1890s. Unfortunately, the West Park System was entrenched in political graft at the time. The commissioners fired Jensen in 1900 because of his efforts to fight the corruption.
Five years later, during major political reforms, new commissioners appointed him General Superintendent and Chief Landscape Architect. Deteriorating and unfinished areas of Humboldt Park allowed Jensen to experiment with his evolving Prairie style. For instance, Jensen extended the park's existing lagoon into a long meandering "prairie river." Inspired by the natural rivers he saw on trips to the countryside, Jensen designed hidden water sources that supplied two rocky brooks that fed the waterway. Nearby he created a circular rose garden and an adjacent naturalistic perennial garden.
Jensen designated an area diagonally across from the rose garden as a a music court for dances, concerts and other special events. He commissioned Prairie School architects Schmidt, Garden, and Martin to design an impressive boat house and refectory building which still stands at one end of the historic music court.
In 1928, the West Park Commission contructed a fieldhouse in Humboldt Park. The structure was designed by architects Michaelsen and Rognstad, who were also responsible for other notable buildings including the Garfield Park Gold Dome Building, the Douglas and LaFolette Park Fieldhouses, and the On Leong Chinese Merchant's Association Building in Chinatown.
In 1934, Humboldt Park became part of the Chicago Park District, when the city's 22 independent park commissions merged into a single citywide agency.
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