I was recently at a volunteer event with about 20 other people, all different ages, genders, races, backgrounds. As an ice breaker, the facilitator asked what is the one thing a visitor to Chicago must see? With zero debate, and almost no consideration, we quickly came to the consensus that the Lakefront was Chicago's most important destination.
Lake Michigan has always played a vital role in Chicago's history as a source for drinking water, commerce, trade and navigation. Equally important, I would argue, is the recreation and beauty it provides. One of the many disappointments of 2020 was that Chicago's Lakefront was closed to minimize large gatherings during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Chicagoans and visitors alike are ecstatic that the beaches are open in 2021. View this gallery to see how Chicagoans have always enjoyed the beach for swimming, water skiing, fishing, boating, sand sculpting, tug-of-war and more. (And if you're looking for that perfect read to enjoy at Chicago's beach this summer, check out CPL's recommendations for summer.)
Like what you see? You can visit Special Collections to view more images from our Chicago Park District Collections. You can also visit the 9th floor of Harold Washington Library Center to see From Swamps to Parks: Building Chicago's Public Spaces, our current exhibit that explores the history of the Chicago Park District. Check out our Digital Collections to view more historical beach images from home. Finally, please share your favorite Chicago beach memory in the comments below.