Lake Park (Lincoln Park & Lincoln Park Zoo)

Lincoln Park is Chicago’s playground. The park is multiple destinations in one, and you could spend a week there and still miss a few things. It took a lot of work to get it that way, though. Learn what went into making Lincoln Park.

Take a look at a map of Chicago’s north side and you’ll notice a huge swath of green along the lake. It stretches seven miles from Ohio Street to Ardmore Avenue, covering 1,214 acres lined with beaches and filled with gardens, sculptures, museums, thousands of trees, and oodles of sporting facilities. That complicated expanse is Lincoln Park, and it was a long time in the making. You don’t create a city park of that size by drawing lines on a map and writing: “Insert Park Here.” This public space jumped through a lot of hoops and over a bunch of dead bodies to become what it is today.

Wait—dead bodies? Yep. Thousands of them.

Every city needs cemeteries, and in 1837, the year Chicago incorporated, the Illinois legislature gave the municipality the right to use one of the lots sold by the canal commission for a burial ground. Starting at North Avenue, this location seemed remote enough, and for a little while it was. 

How did Lincoln Park go from cemetery to Chicago’s playground? Find out in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Begun: 1864
Address: 2001 N Clark St

Discover more of Chicago’s living landmarks

Sources for Lincoln Park and Lincoln Park Zoo

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.