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Washington Park

Neighborhoods SECC

With its grand boulevards, large stock of affordable housing, easy access to downtown, and proximity to one of the largest parks in Chicago, the Washington Park neighborhood stands on the verge of an economic resurgence.

The Park

At the heart of the neighborhood is its 372-acre namesake park. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Washington Park was planned by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, with buildings designed by the architecture firm of Daniel Burnham. The park features lagoons, winding boulevards, walking trails, a swimming pool, and extensive fields for community sports teams. Each summer, the park hosts a wide array of festivals and events, from performances by the UniverSoul Circus to the annual Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic.

The park is home to the DuSable Museum of African American History, the nation's first independent museum devoted to the experience of African Americans. Since 1961, the museum has attracted visitors from across the nation and the world for exhibits and programs that promote cultural understanding and explore themes of black history and culture.

At the southeast edge of Washington Park stands "Fountain of Time," an immense concrete sculpture by Lorado Taft. Completed in the early 1920s and restored several times since, the sculpture features 100 figures passing in front of Father Time.

Economic Development

The Washington Park community has long suffered from population loss, poverty, and unemployment, with a median income of less than half that of the city as a whole. However, a combination of factors-including the city of Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics and the demolition of the neighborhood's major public housing complex-have sparked a resurgence of interest among developers and retailers.

In recent years, hundreds of units of affordable housing have been built in the neighborhood, and many more are planned or in the works. Korle Bu Health Center recently opened a new state-of-the-art facility in the neighborhood, offering community-based healthcare services. And a new nonprofit organization, the Washington Park Consortium, was recently formed to oversee the execution of a new Quality-of-Life Plan for the neighborhood.

A major force in recent redevelopment efforts is the New Communities Program of LISC/Chicago, which recently launched a 10-year comprehensive development effort in Washington Park. Several local churches and other organizations, including Coppin Memorial AME Church and St. Edmund's Redevelopment Corporation, are also active participants in the ongoing rebirth effort.

"Washington Park has a certain cachet these days," according to a recent Chicago Tribune story that focused on the area's revival. "A revival was bound to happen, some say..."



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Washington Park Plans

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