Park No. 503 is located in the South Chicago community. This park is 15.47 acres and it is used for passive recreation.
In 2002, the Chicago Park District acquired land to create this new park in the City’s South Chicago Community Area. In 2009 and 2010, the District acquired some parcels of the land for the expansion of this park. The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners officially named the new park in honor of Clara D. Schafer in 2014. Clara Dorothy Schafer (c. 1898 – 1972) was a nurse and hospital administrator who saved South Chicago Hospital (now Advocate Trinity Hospital) from extinction. Born and raised in Chicago, Schafer had considered pursuing a career in the opera or theater, but decided to devote her life to helping others. She graduated from Chicago’s Burnside Hospital School of Nursing in 1917, and began working as an assistant superintendent in the hospital. Three years later, she became superintendent and administrator of South Chicago Hospital. At the time, the 30-bed facility, nicknamed “Pill Hill,” was on the brink of bankruptcy. The State Department of Public Health threatened to close the small hospital. Clara Schafer turned the institution around, making it one of the most important facilities in the community. On Schafer’s tenth anniversary, the hospital board announced that between 1920 and 1929 she had increased the average number of annual patients from 700 to 2,700.
Schafer was deeply committed to the hospital and the people it served. She was known to shop for and cook hospital meals, scrub floors, and visit the room of each patient. Additionally, she helped make the South Chicago Community Hospital School of Nursing a great success. After serving in her position for 38 years, Clara D. Schafer retired in 1957. She won many awards including an induction into the Academia Cultural y de Cincias Humanicas of Mexico and was also the subject of a biography entitled The Light on the Hill. Park #503 is an appropriate site to name in honor of Clara D. Schafer because it is located only two miles from South Chicago Community Hospital (now Advocate Trinity Hospital) at 2320 East 93nd Street where Ms. Schafer worked and lived. (Her residence at 2325 E. 92nd Place was within the hospital complex.)