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Finding Relics of the White City in Jackson Park

For Curbed Outdoors Week we're taking you on a week-long tour of Chicago's Emerald Necklace, showcasing the beauty of the Chicago Park District's linked chain of parks and the properties overlooking them. First up: Jackson Park.

Located on the near South Side, the 600 acres of Jackson Park are bound by Hyde Park to the North, Woodlawn to the West, the enclave of Jackson Park Highlands to the South and Lake Michigan to the East. The park was originally conceived by the newly formed South Park Commission in 1869, it was the eastern portion of the planned 1,055 acre "South Park," to be designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York City's Central Park. While much of Olmsted's initial plan was realized for the Western portion of the park (currently Washington Park), the area now known as Jackson Park had seen few improvements prior to its selection as the site for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. For the exposition Olmsted closely worked with architect Daniel H. Burnham to transform the swampy area into the legendary "White City." After the fair, the site's conversion back to parkland followed a third Olmsted plan leading to the park's current state.

Today, two structures remain as symbols of the World's Columbian Exposition. The "Golden Lady" sculpture is a one/third replica of Daniel Chester French's Statue of the Republic and the original Fine Arts Palace now houses the Museum of Science & Industry.

In addition, the Wooded Island of Jackson Park retains two garden relics: the site of the old rose garden from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the Osaka Japanese Garden. This garden, dating to 1935, was added near the then-extant old Japanese Pavilion (Ho-oh-den) from the world's fair. The site of the old rose garden is located in the fenced off section in the southern half of the island and is currently being restored as a prairie habitat. The Osaka garden is located near the north bridge and is often the site of cultural festivals and performances.

Current features of the park include a 18-hole golf course dating to 1899, 57th Street Beach, 63rd Street Beach and its historic beach house, three marinas, numerous athletic fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, jogging trails and is also connected to the 18 mile lakefront trail offering direct access to the entire coast of Chicago.

Featured Property

Selecting a single piece of real estate to share with our readers for Jackson Park was a tough decision. With so many vintage co-ops offering spacious vintage units, penthouse apartments with panoramic views to die for and single family mansions of Jackson Park Highlands, it was very tempting to indulge ourselves. However, we chose to remain thrifty... without skimping on quality, space and most importantly VIEWS.

This 2BD, 2BA, 30th-floor unit on the park's northern edge at 1700 E. 56th St. (currently the tallest building south of 13th Street) features south and southwest views directly over the Lakefront, Jackson Park and Hyde Park. With central air conditioning, hardwood floors, a updated kitchen, generously sized bedrooms, ample closets, parking included and located within a full amenity building, this apartments seems to have it all... and having it all gets a list price of a hair under $225K. Granted, the assessments are a tough pill to swallow at $911/month, but where else in Chicago can you find such location and views for so little?
· Listing: 1700 E. 56th St. #3008 [Keller Williams]
· Urbs in Horto: Curbed's tour of the Emerald Necklace [Curbed Chicago]