Located in the Oakland community, Mandrake Park totals 10.16 acres and features a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, a running track and an artificial turf multi-purpose athletic field.
Chicago Park District programs are now offered in the former Abraham Lincoln Center, which serves as the fieldhouse for Mandake Park. The fieldhouse offers meeting rooms, a large gymnasium, a performance auditorium, and a culinary center. It is located across the street from the track and playground on the corner of Pershing Road and Cottage Grove Avenue.
Patrons come to Mandrake Park to play basketball and seasonal sports at the facility. The park is a popular destination for athletics programs, including track and flag football. In the summer, youth attend the Park District's popular Summer Day Camp program, and after-school activities are offered throughout the year.
In addition to programming, Mandrake Park offers special events throughout the year including Gym Showcases, Movies in the Park screenings and other Night Out in the Parks special events.
In the early 1990s, when the Chicago Department of Transportation undertook improvements to Pershing Road and Oakwood Boulevard, the Chicago Park District began planning a new park between the two parallel streets. Numerous public meetings were held to obtain the views of residents of Douglas to the north and Grand Boulevard to the south concerning how best to design the park to draw the two communities together.
After acquiring the property in 1998, the Chicago Park District developed plans for a multi-purpose athletic field, a running track, and a landscaped border to buffer the park from traffic. Work on the park continues.
The park honors Henry McNeil "Mandrake" Brown (1935-1996), who initiated grassroots efforts to eliminate alcohol- and tobacco-related billboards specifically targeting African-American and Latino children. Using the name Mandrake to shield his identity, Brown began whitewashing objectionable billboards in 1990. The first of these billboards was located at Oakwood Boulevard and Pershing Road.
Brown's efforts became the basis for preventing Powere Master Malt Liquor from being marketed to African-Americans; removing 700 illegal billboards in Chicago through use of Chicago's zoning laws; and removing alcohol and tobacco billboards located within 500 feet of schools and churches. Brown also founded the Citywide Coalition Against Tobacco and Alcohol Billboards and the National Association for Positive Imagery.
3rd Thursday of the month at 6:30 pm, Mar. to Oct.