The establishment of Ashburn Flying Field, a World War I pilot training facility and Chicago's first airport, spurred development in Chicago's Ashburn community. By the late 1920s, area residents needed a park to serve their fledgling community. On October 19, 1929, the South Park Commission agreed to purchase a substantial property in Ashburn. Unfortunately, the stock market crashed just a ten days later, and the resulting financial hardships prevented the South Park Commission from improving the site. In 1934, the city's 22 independent park boards were consolidated into the Chicago Park District, and the newly-formed agency took control of the Ashburn property. Park district designers soon developed a preliminary plan for the site, already called Rainey Park for Edward J. Rainey (1905-1911), an influential South Park Commissioner who advocated neighborhood park creation. Though the initial Rainey Park plans were not executed, the property did serve as a temporary nursery. In 1942, when the U.S. Defense Department condemned the northern half of the park for a Chrysler Corporation airplane factory, the park district purchased property to the south. In late 1945, the Chicago Housing Authority leased Rainey Park to provide temporary housing for returning World War II veterans. The lease ended in December, 1956, at which time the park district sold a portion of its land to the Chicago Board of Education for the new Hancock Elementary School. Improvements finally began at Rainey Park in 1959. Park facilities soon included a baseball diamond, tennis and horseshoe courts, and playground equipment. From the beginning, the park and the adjacent school have been jointly operated by the park district and the Board of Education. Though Hancock School closed for several years in the 1980s, the park district continued to use the building for programs, and the school has since reopened. The school gymnasium doubles as a fieldhouse for Rainey Park.