Previously called the C.H.A. Lathrop Homes Property, this small park with a playground is 0.65 acres and it is located in the North Center neighborhood (one long block north of Diversey Parkway, approximately two blocks east of Western Avenue). While there is no structured programming taking place at this location, we invite you to check out our great programs offered at nearby Hamlin Park.
In the 1960s, the Chicago Park District began constructing swimming pools within some Chicago Public Housing complexes to give the residents increased recreational opportunities. This included the Julia Lathrop Homes Development that, dating back to 1935, is among the city’s earliest housing projects. The park district leased the site from the Chicago Housing Authority and operated the swimming pool. In 1995, the park district filled and closed the pool, replacing it with a playground. In 2004, the park district renamed the site in honor of Elizabeth Wood as part of an initiative to recognize the achievements of significant Chicago women. Elizabeth Wood (1899-1993), one of the nation’s most progressive housing reformers, served as the leader of the Chicago Housing Authority for many years. The daughter of a missionary, Wood was born in Japan. She was later raised in Bloomington, Illinois and attended the University of Michigan, where she received a Master’s Degree. After teaching English for several years at Vassar College, Wood settled in Chicago and worked for the United Charities of Chicago. Exposed to the dire conditions of slum housing of Chicago, she became devoted to housing reform. She soon became involved with the city’s most progressive housing reform organization, the Metropolitan Housing Council of Chicago. In the mid 1930s, she served as secretary of the State of Illinois Housing Board. Shortly after the Chicago Housing Authority was formed in 1937, she was appointed as the agency’s first executive secretary. During the seventeen years that she spearheaded the organization, approximately 60,000 people in Chicago left the slums and occupied new low-income units. Wood worked closely with the Chicago Park District on the creation of new parks to serve the residents of public housing such as Wentworth Gardens Park and Carver Park. She helped create a sense of community for CHA residents, sponsoring initiatives such as annual flower competitions. She was a strong advocate for racially integrating housing developments, and was one of the first government officials in the nation to implement a non- discrimination clause. Elizabeth Wood Park is approximately 2 ½ miles from 3145 N. Cambridge, where she lived in the 1940s, and is a property that is leased from CHA.