Chicago Park District Records: Photographs

Dates: 1863 – 2005 (bulk, 1934-1995). Size: 90 linear feet; Approximately 61,000 photographic prints. Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections. Chicago's earliest parks were created between the 1830s and 1860s. In 1869, three major organizations were formed for the creation, maintenance and governance of Chicago's parks: the Lincoln Park Commission, the West Chicago Park Commission and the South Park Commission. By 1934, 22 independent park commissions existed, and in that year, they consolidated into the Chicago Park District. Representing over 500 parks from the late nineteenth century to the present, these photographs document site development, park facilities, features (such as gardens, fountains, playgrounds and sculptures), park staff, programmatic activities, special events, the lakeshore and shore protection efforts and road construction and re-development. Photographs of people engaged in activities and events also appear in great numbers. The photographs show how the demographics and populations served by the city’s parks have changed over time. They also document the history of and changes in American leisure activities and the use of public spaces. [Finding aid]