DuSable Park (Chicago)

Last updated
DuSable Park
Location Chicago
Area Streeterville
Website Official website

DuSable Park is a former commercial and industrial site, at the mouth of the Chicago River that has been the subject of environmental remediation and is awaiting redevelopment into a park. The project, first announced in 1987 by Mayor Harold Washington, is named in honor Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who settled nearby in the 1780s and is known as the "Founder of Chicago".

Chicago River Rivers and canals running through the city of Chicago

The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles (251 km) that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center. Though not especially long, the river is notable because it is one of the reasons for Chicago's geographic importance: the related Chicago Portage is a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

Harold Washington American politician

Harold Lee Washington was an American lawyer and politician who was the 51st Mayor of Chicago. Washington became the first African–American to be elected as the city's mayor in February 1983. He served as mayor from April 29, 1983 until his death on November 25, 1987. Earlier, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1983, representing Illinois' first district. Washington had previously served in the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives from 1965 until 1976.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable Early Founder of Chicago

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is regarded as the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of what later became Chicago, Illinois, and is recognized as the "Founder of Chicago". A school, museum, harbor, park, and bridge have been named in his honor. The site where he settled near the mouth of the Chicago River around the 1780s is identified as a National Historic Landmark, now located in Pioneer Court.



The park is located directly east of North Lake Shore Drive and south of Lake Point Tower and Navy Pier, with Lake Michigan to its east. To its north is the entrance to the Ogden Slip and to its south is the mouth of the Chicago River. The canceled Chicago Spire project had been planned for a site just west of DuSable Park, on the other side of Lake Shore Drive.

Lake Shore Drive highway in Chicago, Illinois

Lake Shore Drive is an expressway that runs parallel with and alongside the shoreline of Lake Michigan through the city of Chicago, Illinois. Except for the portion north of Foster Avenue, Lake Shore Drive is designated as part of U.S. Highway 41.

Lake Point Tower High-rise residential building in Chicago, Illinois

Lake Point Tower is a high-rise residential building located on a promontory of the Lake Michigan lakefront in downtown Chicago, just north of the Chicago River at 505 North Lake Shore Drive. It is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. It rises somewhat apart from the urban cluster of downtown Chicago. Located adjacent to Navy Pier, the building is the only skyscraper in downtown Chicago east of Lake Shore Drive.

Navy Pier amusement pier in Chicago

Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long (1,010 m) pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. The Navy Pier currently encompasses more than fifty acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions and exhibition facilities and is one of the top destinations in the Midwestern United States ("Midwest"), drawing nearly two million visitors annually. It is one of the most visited attractions in the entire Midwest and is Chicago's number one tourist attraction.



Following the construction of the original jetty for the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, lake currents were affected and soil was deposited at the area now known as DuSable Park. [1] In 1857, the State of Illinois sold 40 acres (160,000 m2), including the site later to be known as DuSable Park, to the Chicago Dock and Canal Trust. [1] In 1893 the company dug out the Ogden Slip to allow boats to pull cargo from railroads at North Pier and the DuSable Park site was filled in by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. [1] [2]

Jetty Low bank stretching from the shore into a water span

A jetty is a structure that projects from the land out into water. Often, "jetty" refers to a walkway accessing the centre of an enclosed waterbody. The term is derived from the French word jetée, "thrown", and signifies something thrown out.

North Pier was a retail and office complex located in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The timber loft building, which lines the north side of Ogden Slip, was originally named Pugh Terminal and used as a wholesale exhibition center predating the Merchandise Mart.

United States Army Corps of Engineers federal agency under the Department of Defense and a major Army command

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a U.S. federal agency under the Department of Defense and a major Army command made up of some 37,000 civilian and military personnel, making it one of the world's largest public engineering, design, and construction management agencies. Although generally associated with dams, canals and flood protection in the United States, USACE is involved in a wide range of public works throughout the world. The Corps of Engineers provides outdoor recreation opportunities to the public, and provides 24% of U.S. hydropower capacity.

In 1948 the Chicago Plan Commission passed a resolution excluding use of lakefront property to only recreation or for harbor or terminal facilities for passenger and freight vessels. [1] In 1964, the Chicago Dock and Canal trust leased the land to the developers of Lake Point Tower. [1] Chicago Dock and Canal Trust sold the land south of the tower to Centex (now PulteGroup) with an option to build additional towers on the site that is now DuSable Park. [1]

PulteGroup, Inc. is a home construction company based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. In 2016, the company was the 3rd largest home construction company in the United States, based on the number of homes closed. The company is ranked 341st on the Fortune 500 as of 2018. The company operates in 49 markets in 25 states.

Becoming DuSable Park

In an effort to fight possible development, Mayor Richard J. Daley's administration enacted the Lakefront Protection Ordinance which forbid the land east of Lake Shore Drive to be developed. [1] In 1972, Centex filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago after the city purchased the land. [1] Eventually Centex dropped the option to build on DuSable Park. [1] The Chicago Dock and Canal Trust kept the option to build but agreed not to build on the site. [1]

Richard J. Daley American politician

Richard Joseph Daley was an American politician who served as the 48th Mayor of Chicago for a total of 21 years beginning on April 20, 1955, until his death on December 20, 1976. Daley was the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee for 23 years, holding both positions until his death in office in 1976. Daley was Chicago's third consecutive mayor from the working-class, heavily Irish American Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, where he lived his entire life. Daley is remembered for doing much to avoid the declines that some other "rust belt" cities—like Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit—experienced during the same period. He had a strong base of support in Chicago's Irish Catholic community, and he was treated by national politicians such as Lyndon B. Johnson as a pre-eminent Irish American, with special connections to the Kennedy family. Daley played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and of Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Daley is the father of Richard M. Daley, also a former mayor of Chicago, William M. Daley, a former United States Secretary of Commerce, and John P. Daley, a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. While many members of Daley's administration were charged with corruption and convicted, Daley himself was never charged with corruption.

In 1987 Mayor Harold Washington dedicated the parcel as "DuSable Park" in honor of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the first known settler of Chicago. [1] The Chicago Park District took ownership of the land at DuSable Park in 1988 via a quit claim deed. [2] Eight years later Keer-McGee and River East L.L.C were named as companies responsible for investigating and cleaning up suspected radioactive contamination at DuSable Park. [2] The next year, MCL Companies absorbed the holdings to Chicago Dock and Canal Trust of DuSable Park. [1] MCL Companies then gave the land to the Chicago Park District and agreed to pay $600,000 toward its development. [1]

Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District is the oldest and one of the largest park districts in the United States. As of 2016, there are over 600 parks included in the Chicago Park District as well as 27 beaches, several boat harbors, two botanic conservatories, a zoo, and 11 museums. The Chicago Park District also has more than over 230 field houses, 78 public pools, and dozens of sports and recreational facilities, with year-round programming. The district is an independent taxing authority as defined by Illinois State Statute and is considered a separate agency of the City of Chicago. The district's general superintendent and CEO, Michael P. Kelly, was appointed by the mayor of Chicago and confirmed by the board of commissioners in 2011. The district's headquarters are located in the Time-Life Building in the Streeterville neighborhood.

In July 2000 the Chicago Park District announced it was planning to lease the land to another developer to build a parking lot on the site. [1] [2] Following public outcry and the formation of the DuSable Park Coalition, the Chicago Park District indefinitely postponed the parking lot plan. [1] [2] Since that time two public request for proposals were sent out on the topic of developing the property in 2001 and 2004. [2] Each of those public invitations ended in stalemates. [2] The Art Institute of Chicago tapped Martin Puryear to design a statue of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable which will be erected at DuSable Harbor, directly across the river. [3]

A new DuSable Park

DuSable Park was a staging area for the construction site of the now cancelled Chicago Spire. ChicagoSpireAug22,20072.jpg
DuSable Park was a staging area for the construction site of the now cancelled Chicago Spire.

In July 2005, Christopher Carley of the Fordham Company announced a new development project called the Fordham Spire. [4] The Fordham Company pledged nearly $500,000 to assist in the development of the park, which was to adjoin the site of their new tower. [4] But one year later Carley failed to obtain the necessary financing for his project, and the development of the adjacent tower was turned over to Garret Kelleher of Shelbourne Development and the building was renamed Chicago Spire. [5]

In late 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the project may be going forward with a compromise on the design being reached, but no further financial assistance was promised. [3] In March 2007 Shelbourne Development, the new development company which renamed the adjancent project Chicago Spire, offered $6 million to finish the development of DuSable Park. [6] In early May of the same year, that offer jumped to $9.6 million. [7]

Shelbourne offered their own design of the park which included a northbound ramp onto Lake Shore Drive for the adjacent Chicago Spire. [8] To appease citizens and members of the DuSable Park Coalition, Shelbourne Development redesigned the northbound ramp to fit under Lake Shore Drive and use less park space. [8] The Chicago Spire was later cancelled in early 2010, due to major setbacks. [9]

Redevelopment concerns

"Keep out - radiological remediation area", a sign near contaminated soil at DuSable Park. DuSable Park Radiation Sign 2008.JPG
"Keep out - radiological remediation area", a sign near contaminated soil at DuSable Park.

The current revetment of the land is in need of repair which may cost up to $5.7 million. [3] In addition, soil tests performed at the location of DuSable Park in December 2000 showed contamination of radioactive thorium. [10] From 1904 through 1936, the Lindsay Light Company processed ores which contained thorium to manufacture thorium impregnated gas mantles. [11]

It was suspected that after the plant closed, contaminated soil was dumped on the location of the proposed park. [1] In March 2003, the Chicago Park District stated that the thorium clean-up on that land was incomplete. [12] It has been reported that Shelbourne Development will soon be taking soil samples to determine the severity of the radioactive contamination. [8]

In 2012 the Chicago Park District received funding form the EPA for remediation of the site, bagging the radioactive soil and shipping it to a Superfund site. [13] In Summer 2013 the Park District website reported the remediation had been completed by September 2012 [14]

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Illinois and Michigan Canal canal

The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. In Illinois, it ran 96 miles (154 km) from the Chicago River in Bridgeport, Chicago to the Illinois River at LaSalle-Peru. The canal crossed the Chicago Portage, and helped establish Chicago as the transportation hub of the United States, before the railroad era. It was opened in 1848. Its function was largely replaced by the wider and shorter Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900, and it ceased transportation operations with the completion of the Illinois Waterway in 1933.

Parramatta River River in Australia

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Streeterville neighborhood in Chicago

Streeterville is a neighborhood in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois, United States, north of the Chicago River. It is bounded by the river on the south, the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue on the west, and Lake Michigan on the north and east, according to most sources, although the City of Chicago only recognizes a small portion of this region as Streeterville. Thus, it can be described as the Magnificent Mile plus all land east of it. The majority of the land in this neighborhood is reclaimed sandbar.

Washington Park, Chicago (community area) Community area in Illinois, United States

Washington Park is a community area on the South Side of Chicago which includes the 372 acre (1.5 km²) park of the same name, stretching east-west from Cottage Grove Avenue to the Dan Ryan Expressway, and north-south from 51st Street to 63rd. It is home to the DuSable Museum of African American History. The park was the proposed site of the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Aquatics Center in Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Lakeshore East human settlement in United States of America

Lakeshore East is a master-planned mixed use urban development being built by the Magellan Development Group in the Loop community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It is located in the northeastern part of the Loop, which, along with Illinois Center, is called the New Eastside. The development is bordered by Wacker Drive to the north, Columbus Drive to the west, Lake Shore Drive to the east, and East Randolph Street to the south. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill created the master plan for the area. The development, which had been scheduled for completion in 2011, is now set for completion in 2013. Although the majority of the buildings in the neighborhood will be 21st century constructions resulting from the master plan, some of the current buildings were built as early as the 1960s and 1970s decades. Thus, the term "Lakeshore East" refers only to the components of the new master plan, while the term New Eastside refers to the greater neighborhood surrounding Lakeshore East that extends westward to Michigan Avenue. In the 1960s, Illinois Center near Michigan Avenue was developed. There is little formal distinction between buildings in the masterplan and other buildings in the neighborhood because the pre-existing buildings are referred to as being located in the Lakeshore East area.

Chicago Spire building

The Chicago Spire is an on-hold skyscraper project at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Illinois that failed financially soon after construction began. When originally proposed as the Fordham Spire in July 2005, the design had 116 stories, included a hotel and condominiums, and was topped with a broadcast antenna mast. The building was designed and spearheaded by Spanish architect-engineer Santiago Calatrava and Chicago developer Christopher T. Carley of the Fordham Company. On March 16, 2006, the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the initial design of the building. On November 4, 2014, a court ruling brought the original development plan and the extended litigation over the nine-year-old project to a close. Developer Garrett Kelleher signed over the property location to the project's biggest creditor, Related Midwest, who announced that they would not build the Spire and released their plans for the site.

860–880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments architectural structure

860–880 Lake Shore Drive is a twin pair of glass-and-steel apartment towers on N. Lake Shore Drive along Lake Michigan in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Construction began in 1949 and the project was completed in 1951. The towers were added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 28, 1980, and were designated as Chicago Landmarks on June 10, 1996. The 26 floor, 254 ft tall towers were designed by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and dubbed the "Glass House" apartments. Construction was by the Chicago real estate developer Herbert Greenwald, and the Sumner S. Sollitt Company. The design principles, first expressed in the 1921 Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper competition in Berlin and built thirty years later in 860–880 Lake Shore Drive, were copied extensively and are now considered characteristic of the modern International Style as well as essential for the development of modern High-tech architecture.

North Shore (Lake Superior)

The North Shore of Lake Superior runs from Duluth, Minnesota, United States, at the southwestern end of the lake, to Thunder Bay and Nipigon, Ontario, Canada, in the north to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in the east. The shore is characterized by alternating rocky cliffs and cobblestone beaches, with forested hills and ridges through which scenic rivers and waterfalls descend as they flow to Lake Superior.

The Fordham Company is a real estate development company founded in 1988 and based out of Chicago, Illinois. The company's chairman is Christopher T. Carley. As of 2015 they had developed over 16,000 residential units.

Regents Park (Chicago) building in Chicago, Illinous, USA

Regents Park is a 1,026 unit, upscale apartment complex in the Indian Village section of the Kenwood community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States, and adjacent to the Hyde Park community area border. Bordering Harold Washington Park, its two parallel towers are just west of Lake Shore Drive, Burnham Park and Lake Michigan with clear park and lake views to the east and south. The 37 floor Regents Park South Tower was completed in 1972 and the 36 floor Regents Park North Tower was completed in 1974. The South Tower is the tallest building in Kenwood, and overlooks Lake Michigan and Burnham Park to the east and Harold Washington Park to the south.

Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite National Historic Landmark in Chicago

The Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite is the location where, around the 1780s, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable located his home and trading post. This home is generally considered to be the first permanent, non-native, residence in Chicago, Illinois. The site of Point du Sable's home is now partially occupied by and commemorated in Pioneer Court at 401 N. Michigan Avenue in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

The Chicago Lakefront Trail (LFT) is a 18.5-mile-long (29.8 km) partial shared use path for walking jogging and cycling, located along the western shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. The trail passes through and connects Chicago's four major lakefront parks along with various beaches and recreational amenities. It also serves as a route for bicycle commuters. On busy summer days 70,000 people use the trail.

The Gateway Tower is a conceptual proposal to illustrate a potential use of the abandoned site once planned to house the Chicago Spire in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side of Chicago.

Chicago Harbor

Generally, the Chicago Harbor comprises the public rivers, canals, and lakes within the territorial limits of the City of Chicago and all connecting slips, basins, piers, breakwaters, and permanent structures therein for a distance of three miles from the shore between the extended north and south lines of the city. The greater Chicago Harbor includes portions of the Chicago River, the Calumet River, the Ogden Canal, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Lake Calumet, and Lake Michigan.

The Maywood Chemical Company processed radioactive thorium waste from 1916 through 1955 in Maywood / Rochelle Park, in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deemed Maywood Chemical a Superfund site in 1983 and has since been in the clean process..

400 Lake Shore Drive is a proposed set of connected towers to be built in Chicago, Illinois. Related Midwest is developing the project, and the firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill designed the buildings. It is scheduled to be completed by 2023.


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  8. 1 2 3 Ahmed-Ullah, N. S. (2007, May 10). City lays groundwork for Spire: Condo tower's developer will help fund nearby park. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 27, 2007 from Topic Galleries – Chicago Tribune
  9. Calatrava Dances onto a New Stage Archived February 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine . – BusinessWeek
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  13. Report: DuSable Park Site Near Navy Pier Nearly Clear Of Radioactive Soil
  14. Retrieved 24 June 2013, from http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Dusable-Park/