This sculptural portrait bust honors the park’s namesake, Ping Tom. A lifelong resident of Chinatown, Ping Tom (1935–1995) became a successful businessman in the community after earning degrees in economics and law from Northwestern University. In 1984, he and other business leaders formed the Chinese American Development Corporation. This private real estate firm created the 32-acre Chinatown Square, a one hundred million dollar residential and commercial expansion of Chinatown. Ping Tom was founding president of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, a past president and director of the Chinese American Civic Council, and an advisory board member of the Chinese American Service League. He was also the driving force behind the creation of Ping Tom Park, the first new public green space built in Chinatown for decades.
The Chicago Park District transformed a former railroad yard abutting the South Branch of the Chicago River into the seventeen acre-park in several stages between the late 1990s and 2010. Ernest Wong of Site Design Group created the exquisite Chinese American style plan for the Chinatown Park.
The Chinese American Development Corporation donated the Ping Tom Portrait Bust in 2005. The corporation commissioned Liao Huilan, a prominent Chinese sculptor, to create the bronze bust. Liao Huilan studied at Guang Zhao Academy of Fine Arts, and went on to become a professor of art there for about 30 years. She has several large-scale permanent sculptural installations in various Chinese cities including WuZhouXueZhi in Guang Zhao, FengXian in XinJiang HaMi, and TangFei in GuangDong NanHai. One of her best known sculptures, entitled Ji Wan Kai Lai, Tze Chane Bu Se, is located in Mei Zhao, China.