Construction Update
The First Tree is Planted in Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park construction

The very first tree being planted at Maggie Daley Park. We shall call her “Lisa.”

It’s been a long 21 months since construction began at the future site of Maggie Daley Park. When complete, it should be a spectacular addition to the city’s park system and a facility that can be used all year round.

For months we’ve watched as the space went from a traditional urban park to a mud pit to a concrete roof to a foam fortress then back to mud. And now it’s starting to really take shape. In the photograph below, you can actually start to make out where some of the picnic hills will be.  They’re the white grofoam blocks on the left side that will soon be covered with dirt and grass and fun.  On the right, the concrete base of the skating loop is now clearly visible and you can see how it ties into the existing infrastructure at the Daley Bicentennial Fieldhouse.  .

Maggie Daley Park construction

Photograph courtesy of Richard Ward

But it was Richard Ward, the eagle-eyed president of the New Eastside Residents Association, who just yesterday spotted the first new tree being planted in the new Maggie Daley Park, and shared a photo with us.  It’s just one tree, but one that is symbolic of the more than 1,000 new trees that will be planted on the roof of the parking garage that is hidden below the park.

When this was Daley Bicentennial Plaza, there were over 250 honey locust trees in the park. The damage being done throughout the Midwest by he emerald ash borer has taught the city that monoculture is a bad thing, so the new trees are from a greater variety of species.

Maggie Daley Park construction

Construction workers use conveyor belts to move dirt from the Peanut Park storage area into the park. Photograph courtesy of Richard Ward.

But it wasn’t a chainsaw massacre at Daley Bi.  160 mature trees were saved and will be used in the children’s play area toward the south end of the new park, and about 40 of the Peanut Park trees survive.

Mr. Ward tells us that while the park’s official opening is still scheduled for the spring of 2015, a soft opening will happen in the fall of this year.

Editor’s Note: Interestingly, in preparing this article I discovered that Maggie Daley Park is one of this blog’s most popular topics of all time.  And one of our most-read articles of all time was Snark on the Park: Last-Minute Hysterics Over the Latest Plans for the North Grant Park Renovation.  Two years after it was published, it’s still a very informative, and some say amusing, piece of text.

Author: Editor

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

Share This Post On