Lincoln Park began as a public cemetery in the 1830s. Recognizing that the lakeside burial ground posed a public health threat, early citizens rallied to transform the site into parkland. A sixty acre unused part of the burial ground was first designated as Lake Park in 1860, and five years later the city renamed the site as Lincoln Park, providing a substantial budget for improvements. Over the years, Lincoln Park has grown to a landscape of over 1200 acres, particularly through many landfill extensions. In the late 1930s, a major landfill addition that stretched from Fullerton Avenue to North Avenue accounts for most of what is now the North Avenue Beach. Decades earlier, there was only a narrow paved beach that edged Lake Shore Drive in this area.
In 1934, the Lincoln Park Commission became part of the newly consolidated Chicago Park District and the new agency received substantial funding through President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The completion of North Avenue Beach was one of many projects in Lincoln Park funded through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Construction began in 1939 and the $1,250,000 project included a major improvement to Lake Shore Drive with grade separation providing a new overpass at North Avenue. The new North Avenue Beach, totaled more than 875,000 square feet of new parkland and extended all the way to Fullerton Avenue. Chicago Park District architect Emanuel V. Buchsbaum designed the new Art Moderne style North Avenue Beach House to emulate a lake ship. The North Avenue Beach and Beach House were dedicated in July of 1940. Over the years, the frame beach house had become so deteriorated that it had to be demolished. The original building inspired the design of a similar although somewhat large building composed of cast-in-place concrete. Designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the new structure was built in 1999.