There are lots of neighborhoods in Chicago that are short on parks. Streeterville is short two of them.
First, there’s the long-promised, never-delivered, and no longer radioactive DuSable Park. City Hall has been promising that patch of greenery to its citizens since the Washington administration (Harold, not George).
Then there’s the park that’s actually going somewhere: Bennett Park. If you’ve lived in Streeterville for any amount of time, you know this used to be a park above a parking garage between Park View West, and One Bennett Park. But it was pretty boring, and so under-landscaped that even the local pugs preferred to use the nearest Chicago Twin for their business.
Today, a combination of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates‘ imagination, and Related Midwest’s moolah is making great progress turning this back into a community greenspace. And the 1.7-acre plot is also becoming more interactive (“activated” in park-designer lingo).
As you can see in these photographs from Joe Zekas at YoChicago!, there’s lots of wooden piling packets for kids to climb on, some kind of serpentine concrete thing, and what looks like it’s going to be a miniature pond with little houses in it so the kids can play Captain Streeter in the neighborhood that bears his name.
If you’re new to town, Captain George Streeter was a circus owner who crashed his steamship into a sandbar off the coast of Chicago, declared the sandbar an independent state, invited demolition crews to dump rubble there, then sold the resulting land to homesteaders, forming the area commonly known today as Streeterville. Ta da!
Let’s hope that MVVA decided to actually fill the pond with water, instead of safety-safe sand. For those of you who believe that children are not well served by health-and-safety pearl clutching, the good news is that adventure playgrounds which teach children about risk and reality while surrounded by signs reading “Your children are fine without advice & suggestions” are becoming a thing.