Independence Park

From HistoryWiki

Independence Park [[Soundex Code

3945 N. Springfield Avenue

Chicago, Illinois

Independence Park

In 1907, Irving Park area residents petitioned Mayor Fred Busse for the creation of parks in their neighborhood. Mayor Busse referred the request to the city's Special Park Commission, which inspected potential park properties, including the longtime site of the neighborhood's annual Independence Day celebration. With the city's most congested districts as their focus, the commissioners could not justify creating a park in this spacious, middle-class neighborhood. State enabling legislation offered an alternative. By popular vote in 1910, community members established the Irving Park District.

The new park district soon began acquiring the previously-identified site. Though acquisition took several years, improvements began and the neighborhood continued holding its annual 4th of July festivities there. Recognizing the importance of this community celebration, the site was named Independence Park. In 1914, the park district constructed an attractive brick fieldhouse designed by Clarence Hatzfeld and Knox. Several years later, Independence Park was enlarged to Byron Street. The new property included a single-family brick home which was converted for use by the Women's Community Club. In response to requests from the public, the park district created a beautiful sunken garden with fanciful rockwork, trimmed hedges, and elaborate plantings. Colored lights illuminated the garden at night. By 1930, in addition to the garden, Independence Park included horseshoe and tennis courts, two 18-hole putting greens, playgrounds, and a wading pool.

In 1934, all of the city's 22 independent park agencies were consolidated into the Chicago Park District. As part of a federal Works Progress Administration arts initiative, artist M.R. Decker created a patriotically-themed painting for Independence Park's fieldhouse auditorium. In 1950, the park district replaced the sunken garden with ball fields.