33 Years Later, Chicago’s DuSable Park Still Not Ready

If you thought this was going to be the year you could finally pack a picnic hamper with egg salad sandwiches, pull on your favorite sun bonnet, and head to DuSable Park to enjoy a warm spring afternoon in downtown Chicago, you’re as loopy as that lady who sits in the hobo corner on the Brown Line scat singing the Check Please theme music to herself.

It’s been a third of a century since Mayor Harold Washington declared the peninsula north of the Chicago River and East of Lake Shore Drive an official park. But it’s still not ready, as evidenced by the photo below from Streeterville Spy Joel.

DuSable Park remediation in late February 2020 (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Joel)
DuSable Park remediation in late February 2020 (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Joel)

What you see here isn’t construction of the Navy Pier Flyover gone way out of control. It’s yet another remediation crew conducting yet another cleanup of the radioactive thorium-contaminated soil left behind by Streeterville’s industrial history.

Most of what you see there today are crews are installing a new barrier wall around the site that is far deeper than the Chicago River channel, removing the old steel sheet piling walls, and digging up the existing dirt to test it for radiation.

The Environmental Protection Agency kicked in almost seven million dollars for this round of digging. Fortunately, it’s not your tax dollars at work. The money comes from a fraud settlement with a pair of big energy companies.

The goal is for this to eventually become a very nice place for nearby residents to have a picnic, for tourists to take selfies, and for children to eat bugs fresh off the grass. When that will actually happen is anyone’s guess. As we stated before, Chicago has been waiting a third of a century for this one.

Location: 401 North Lake Shore Drive, Streeterville

Author: Editor

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

Share This Post On