Burnham Park totals about 600 acres and sits on Chicago’s Lakefront just south of Grant Park. The park was named for Chicago's famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham, who envisioned a south lakefront park with a series of manmade islands, linear boating harbor, beaches, meadows, and playfields, as published in his seminal The Plan of Chicago of 1909.
Today, Burnham Park features the naturalistic Promontory Point designed by Alfred Caldwell and a popular skate park at 31st Street. The park also benches located at 12 Street, 31st Street, Oakwood and 57th Street, bird sanctuaries and beautiful natural areas. The Margaret T. Burroughs Beach and Park is a newer park feature and stretches from 31 Street to 26th Street.
While there is no structured programming taking place at this location, we invite you to check out our great programs offered at nearby Ellis Park.
In the mid-1890s, Chicago's famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham began sketching a magnificent park and boulevard that would link Jackson Park with downtown. As Chief of Construction for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, Burnham (1846- 1912) had transformed sandy, wind-swept, Jackson Park into the glistening White City. After the fair, Burnham began imagining a more beautiful, orderly, and functional Chicago. Burnham's vision, including a south lakefront park with a series of man made islands, linear boating harbor, beaches, meadows, and play fields, was published in his seminal 1909 Plan of Chicago. The South Park Commission wanted to create the park, however development was delayed by disputes with the Illinois Central Railroad over riparian rights. Property rights and government approvals were finally secured in 1920, and voters approved a $20 million bond issue to create the park. By the time the site was named Burnham Park in 1927, only the northern part of the site had been filled. In 1933 and 1934, the Century of Progress, Chicago's second World's Fair took place in Burnham Park. In the mid-1930s, the newly created Chicago Park District used federal funds from the Works Progress Administration to complete landfill operations and improve Burnham Park, including the naturalistic Promontory Point landscape by renowned designer Alfred Caldwell. In 1935, Mayor Edward J. Kelly began pursuing the idea of a permanent fair in Burnham Park. To facilitate this, the state passed a bill creating the Metropolitan Fair and Exposition Authority. The legislation allowed the construction of Merrill C. Meigs Airport in 1946 and the McCormick Place convention hall in 1960. The original McCormick Place burned down in 1967, and despite opposition, a new facility opened in Burnham Park in 1971. In recent years, Mayor Richard M. Daley's vision for a greener, more beautiful Burnham Park has begun taking shape. Sixty acres of asphalt were transformed into a landscaped Museum Campus. And the former Meigs Field has been transformed into a 91-acre natural area park, known as Northerly Island where park patrons can enjoy a paved all-purpose trail. Birders catch glimpses of migrating birds in the fall and spring seasons, while anglers can find the perfect fishing spot.