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Grant Park

The Evolution of Chicago's Front Yard

Dennis H. Cremin

Publication Year: 2013

Not long after the city of Chicago was founded in the 1830s, land was set aside for a public park on the lakefront.  This book focuses on how people changed this public land from an often unsightly neighborhood park into a landscape of regional, national, and international significance. The transformation of the park did not take place quickly or easily, and the current appearance has been the result of a great number of plans, efforts, court battles, and compromises. By “reading” the physical landscape of the park and its monuments, it is possible to gain insight into the cultural history and values of the Chicago community.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Jacket Flaps, Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-8


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pp. vii-=

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

Chicagoans have visited their lakefront park from its earliest days, looking out at the great blue expanse of Lake Michigan and turning to gape at the sprawling settlement on the lakeshore. More than just a place for recreation, Grant Park, as it came to be called, proclaimed the city’s greatness. This book examines how the park’s landscape changed over time and how ...

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pp. xv-20

Many people and institutions aided in the preparation of this book. I thank Dr. Patricia Mooney-Melvin of Loyola University Chicago for all her help in the early stages, for introducing me to the field of public history, and for her encouragement. I offer deep appreciation to Lewis Erenberg and Theodore Karamanski, both of Loyola University Chicago, for their keen insights and ...

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1. Early Park History: Lake, Land, and Place

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pp. 1-26

Grant Park’s history stretches back to the earliest days of Chicago and is closely linked with the community’s development. Centrally located south of the Chicago River and adjacent to the emerging central business district, the park often became embroiled in the commercial ventures and civic plans of the city. Chicagoans have, from the beginning, used it as a show-...

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2. Lake Park: A Cultural and Civic Center

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pp. 27-45

While embers still smoldered from the fire that destroyed thousands of buildings, killed three hundred people, and left one hundred thousand city residents homeless, on October 11, 1871, the editors of the Chicago Tribune boldly announced, “The people of this once beautiful city have resolved that chicago shall rise again.” Indeed, the paper reported, dauntless ...

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3. The World’s Columbian Exposition and Chicago’s Cultural Flowering

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pp. 46-64

Already the Midwest’s industrial giant and transportation center, Chicago came to embody the new American city during the 1890s. Although proud of their achievements in business, some of Chicago’s elite resented their city’s image as a sprawling, brawling, precocious youngster devoid of civilized manners and the “higher tone.” Certainly, these men had amassed ...

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4. Making the White City Permanent

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pp. 65-90

As John Coleman Adams, Protestant pastor and book author, observes in “What a Great City Might Be—A Lesson from the White City,” the World’s Columbian Exposition offered a model for the modern city on the eve of the twentieth century. Chicagoans set about envisioning their Midwestern industrial metropolis, drawing upon the expertise of urban planners, ...

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5. The New Design

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pp. 91-121

Between the end of the nineteenth century and 1909, the South Park Commission made extensive plans for Grant Park. In addition, Daniel H. Burn-ham and Edward H. Bennett published their 1909 Plan of Chicago, which envisioned Grant Park as a primary focus of the city and provided an ambi-tious vision for the entire lakefront. Meanwhile, Aaron Montgomery Ward’s ...

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6. Gateway and Cultural Center: From a Century of Progress to Postwar Park

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pp. 122-135

The prosperity and significant building boom that typified the 1920s began to come to an end in October 1929 with the start of the Great Depression. Despite the economic climate, Chicagoans proposed another fair for 1933 during which the city would celebrate its first hundred years. Even with the severe economic downturn, the fair’s organizers pressed forward with prepa-...

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7. Parking Lots, Protests, and Mayhem: Grant Park in the Daley Era

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pp. 136-161

Chicago emerged from the Great Depression and World War II poised for a bright future. The city had a large population that had survived the Great Depression and had contributed significantly to the war effort. If you asked the man on the street in the 1950s if his downtown was on the decline or at all threatened, he would have scoffed. Business leaders would have found it ...

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8. The Park Reenvisioned and Renewed

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pp. 162-192

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chicagoans sowed the seeds for significant change for Grant Park. Chicagoans looked to transform their city while the changing economy created urban challenges that were marked by depopulation and deindustrialization. At the same time, Americans were becoming energized by the environmental movement and gaining ...


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pp. 193-210


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pp. 211-222


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pp. 223-234

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Author Biography

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pp. 235-255

Dennis H. Cremin is a professor at Lewis University, where he also serves as the director of the Lewis University History Center. He is active in the field of public history and directed interpretation for Lockport’s Lincoln Landing. He is the author of Chicago: A Pictorial Celebration (2006) with ...

Back Cover

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p. 256-256

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332526
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332502
Print-ISBN-10: 0809332507

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 47 b/w halftones 2 maps
Publication Year: 2013