Park Pals Prevail, Plaisance Presidential Parking Peril Passes

The proposal to turn a city block’s worth of public park over to a private organization to build a parking garage is dead. It was announced late last night that the Barack Obama Presidential Center has decided not to build its controversial parking garage and transit center on the Midway Plaisance.

(Left to right) The Midway Plaisance block today, the original proposal, and the current proposal.

(Left to right) The Midway Plaisance block today, the original proposal, and the recently deceased proposal.

The parking deck and bus idling area were met with scorn and disbelief by neighbors and fans of public space when it surfaced last year.  It would have placed a multi-story parkade at the intersection of Stony Island and 60th Street.  The side facing Jackson Park would have featured sloping greenery, but the opposite side would have been a sheer facade, like any other parking ramp, and actually rise higher than the adjacent South Shore Line railroad embankment.

In exchange for taking away a block of public park listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city would have been given… *crickets*

Michael McNamee, co-chair of the Save the Midway neighborhood group issued this statement:

We hold this to be a victory for preservationists who fought to respect this Olmsted park as a national treasure on the National Register of Historic Places; for public parks and open land advocates; for environmentalists; for community groups and organizations; and for the local community.  We are grateful to all who supported the work to keep the Midway entire, open and clear.

The Obama Foundation will, instead build an underground parking garage within the rest of the Obama Center campus, soon to be built across the street in Jackson Park.

Location: 1501 East Midway Plaisance Drive, East Hyde Park

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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