Construction Update
Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park construction

The sounds of bulldozers are becoming less frequent, and the sounds of jackhammers more frequent at the future site of Maggie Daley Park (337 East Randolph Street).  Nearly all the dirt has been scraped from the roof of the Monroe Street Parking Garage, allowing construction crews to fix the leaking roof and eventually replace it with a modern park.

Today, the fieldhouse ziggurat is all that remains recognizable of the old Daley Bicentennial Plaza.

If you’ve ever wondered what the serpentine BP Pedestrian Bridge looks like underneath, you can now see.  The east end of the bridge is just kind of hanging in the air now that all the dirt has been pulled out from underneath it.

About 800 crab apple, magnolia, honey locust, ash, elm, and maple trees were cut down for this project.  They will be replaced with 1,000 new trees.  In addition, about 40 of the old trees are being saved, plus those that were around the old miniature golf course on East Monroe Street.

Last week, we received an e-mail from someone asking for information about the controversy surrounding this project and we’ve heard others cynically wondering aloud if it even qualifies as a park.  Here’s a portion of an e-mail I wrote in reply:

The new park will be a great example of what urban parks are these days.  The whole concept of a “park” has changed over the centuries.  They used to be wooded areas for hunting.  Then they became formal gardens like the English and French traditions. Then wide open lawns became the rage in the late 19th century into the 20th century. And now the idea is to “program” different portions of parks so that they appeal to many different people, get greater use, and can be used year-round.  A picnic area for young couples.  A playground for young children.  Skateparks for teens.  Gardens and benches for old people.  Wildish areas for birdwatchers and nature lovers.  Even concert venues are all part of the new definition of “park.”  The Park District has done a couple of small-scale experiments with the new style of parks, but this will be the city’s first all-out effort.  It’s different than what we used to think of as a “park.”  But there were probably old people in the 1800’s who looked at the hedges and allees of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and were mad at the new fangled “park” because there were no deer to shoot.

I’m not an architect, nor an historian, but I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that the whole notion of “park” has changed over the years; though the thought makes some uncomfortable.

Regardless of personal preference, construction is well underway and we’ll find out which side is right in 2015.

Maggie Daley Park construction

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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