Ping Tom Memorial Park's 17.44-acre site was originally a Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad yard located along the edge of the South Branch of the Chicago River in the Armour Square Community. In 1998, the Chicago Park District began transforming the old railyard into a beautiful rolling green space, taking full advantage of the impressive river views. Today, Ping Tom Memorial Park holds a children's playground, community gathering areas and Chinese landscape design elements.
The park's fieldhouse, named in honor of the late Advisory Council President Leonard Louie, was completed in October 2013. The facility offers a multi-purpose gymnasium, a 9 feet-deep, zero-depth entry indoor swimming pool, two meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center, men's, women and family locker rooms, a second story outdoor patio with skyline views, a green rooftop, and a full service kitchen.
Outside, the park offers an athletic field, walking paths by the river, and a boat house, which is open for kayak rentals during the summer season. The boathouse includes a public dock that is available for use by non-motorized boats during park hours. Restrooms are also available to the public when the boathouse vendor is operating. Outside facilities also include a children's playground and a pagoda-style pavilion.
Patrons enjoy visiting Ping Tom for fitness classes, indoor swimming and seasonal sports. The park is a popular destination for special events and many of its spaces are available for rental. Park goers also come to Ping Tom Park to enjoy Night Out in the Parks special events such as concerts and dance performances on the lawn, Shakespeare in the Park, Movies in the Park screenings, and much more.
The Chicago Park District acquired the site for Ping Tom Memorial Park in 1991. For years, its surrounding Chinatown community had suffered a total lack of open space and recreational facilities. The only nearby parks, Hardin Square and Stanford Park, had been demolished 30 years earlier to make way for the Dan Ryan Expressway. Two full generations of children in Chinatown grew up without access to a neighborhood park or any recreational area.
Ping Tom Memorial Park's 12-acre site was originally a Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad yard located along the edge of the South Branch of the Chicago River. In 1998, the Chicago Park District began transforming the old rail-yard into a beautiful rolling green space, taking full advantage of impressive river views. The park has a children's playground, community gathering areas, and Chinese landscape design elements.
The park was named in honor of the leading force behind its creation, Chinatown's most noted civic leader, Ping Tom (1935-1995). A lifelong resident of Chinatown, Ping Tom formed the Chinese American Development Corporation in 1984. The private real estate firm transformed a 32-acre rail yard site into Chinatown Square, a $100 million dollar residential and commercial expansion of Chinatown.
Active in numerous prominent civic and cultural institutions, Ping Tom was also an advisor to U.S. senators, Illinois governors, and Chicago mayors. In 2002, the Chicago Park District acquired 5 additional acres on the northeast side of the park. Landscape improvements to the expanded area of Ping Tom Memorial Park will soon follow.
First Wednesday on even months at 6:30 p.m.