Northerly Island Park is a 119-acre Natural Area and park, situated along the Lake Michigan shoreline on Chicago’s beautiful Museum Campus. Chicago's famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham imagined Northerly Island as one of the northernmost points in a series of manmade islands stretching between Grant and Jackson Parks and exists as the only island to be completed. The site of the Century of Progress World Fair in 1933, Northerly Island has since been transformed into an urban nature sanctuary, making it the ideal location to investigate the intersection of Chicago’s natural and built environments.
This lakefront Natural Area features prairie grasslands, a 5 acre pond, and strolling paths that offer great views for observing birds and other native wildlife. There are over 150 different varieties of native plants and an emerging savanna with 20,000 trees and shrubs, all which provide an ecosystem for migratory and local birds.
Northerly Island offers year-round outdoor and environmental programs that are a catalyst for bringing communities together to develop an awareness, appreciation and knowledge of our natural environment. Programs include youth nature programs, guided nature field trips & tours, camping, fishing, paddling and annual seasonal festivals that highlight nature in the city, such as the popular Polar Adventure Days.
Today, Daniel Burnham’s vision is now a reality. With wild prairie grasses taking root, strolling paths, superb fishing spots and rolling hills that frame a spectacular view of the City skyline, we invite you to come out and enjoy the emerging world of Northerly Island.
Northerly Island’s Nature Center is open weekdays from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.
Chicago's famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham imagined Northerly Island as one of the northernmost points in a series of manmade islands stretching between Grant and Jackson Parks. His vision for this park included lagoons, harbors, beaches, recreation areas, a scenic drive and grand stretches of green space that would provide breathtaking views of the lake and City skyline. Northerly Island and Burnham Park were selected as the site of Chicago's second World's Fair entitled A Century of Progress, 1933-34, and by the early 1930s, Northerly Island had been increased to its present size. In 1938, the Chicago Park District removed the bridge leading to Northerly Island and built a causeway connecting the island to Burnham Park. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Northerly Island featured paths and walkways, scattered trees and grass, a parking lot and the 12th Street Beach. In 1947, a small airport known as Meigs Field opened under the Exposition Authority Act. Operations at Meigs expanded with the building of an air control tower in 1952. The 50-year lease granted by the park district for Meigs Field expired on September 30, 1996. The City, Park District, and numerous civic organizations agreed that the airport should revert to parkland. Today, Daniel Burnham’s vision is now a reality. With wild prairie grasses taking root, beautiful strolling paths, casual play areas, and a spectacular view of the City skyline, we invite you to come out and enjoy the emerging world of Northerly Island.