In the early 1970s, the Chicago Board of Education decided to expand its Graham Elementary School in the New City neighborhood. The Board of Education built the school addition on nearby Halsted Playlot, a site which had been leased to the Chicago Park District.
To compensate for the loss of parkland, the City of Chicago and the Board of Education developed a new park on adjacent property. Equipped with playground equipment and a basketball court, the 1.6-acre site was managed by the park district. The Board of Education retained ownership until 1986, when it was officially transferred to the park district. During the 1990s, the park district acquired another .4 acres from the city for park expansion, soon installing a new soft surface playground.
McInerney Park honors Thomas McInerney, one of three brothers who arrived from Ireland in 1870. Three years later, the brothers established an undertaking business at 44th Street and Racine Avenue. Though the partnership was dissolved after several years, Thomas McInerney opened a new funeral home at 4635 South Wallace, two blocks south of the park site. The McInerney family, which runs the business, has been very active in local civic and charitable organizations for many years.