This small playground is located in the Austin Community. The park totals 7.05 acres and it features a baseball diamond, a basketball court and a playground that was renovated in Fall 2013 as part of the Chicago Plays! playground initiative, 327 playgrounds across the city were built or renovated from 2013 through 2016, ensuring every child in every neighborhood is within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground. It is an active community park.
While there is no structured programming taking place at this location, we invite you to check out our great programs offered at nearby Austin Town Hall Park for recreation.
In 1866, the year after Henry W. Austin developed a large portion of Cicero Township as Austinville, approximately 20 acres were recorded as Merrick's Subdivision. At the time, developers were worried that fire could spread quickly through newly-constructed neighborhoods, and they often set small parcels of open space aside to provide some protection.
Within Merrick's Subdivision, 6.5 acres were designated as parkland. By the 1880s, the site comprised only a planted area enclosed by a white picket fence. At each corner entrance were wooden arches bearing the name "Merrick Park" in large black letters. In 1899, the City of Chicago annexed Austinville, and within the next few years the park came under the jurisdiction of the Special Park Commission.
In 1906, renowned designer Jens Jensen, serving as a member of the Special Park Commission, developed improvement plans for a number of city parks. In Merrick Park, Jensen created two circular meadows and walkways, and densely planted trees and shrubs. There was also a combination tool shed and comfort station which was constructed in 1907. Although the park did not have playground equipment, it offered lawn tennis during the warmer months and ice skating in winter.
The city transferred Merrick Park to the Chicago Park District along with more than 250 other properties in 1959. The existing building was converted and expanded into a small fieldhouse in 1972. At the same time, the park district installed new basketball and volleyball courts, playground equipment, and baseball backstops.
In 1974, the site was renamed Levin Park as a tribute to John H. ("Little Jack") Levin (1887-1971). For 57 years, Levin owned Little Jack's Restaurant, a neighborhood institution and favorite spot for boxers who came after matches at Chicago Stadium, as well as Democratic politicians and judges. Levin served as a Chicago Park District Commissioner from 1946 until 1969.