2018 marks 200 years since DuSable's death and over 30 years since Mayor Harold Washington dedicated the land for the DuSable Park. Please join us in celebrating the LATEST DEVELOPMENTS and PROGRESS we have made this year towards the Park development. 

Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable, despite renewed interest to his life, has not enjoyed full recognition as the first permanent non-Native American settler and founder of modern Chicago. DuSable Heritage Association has worked over the years with the Chicago Park District and the DuSable Park Coalition in planning the future DuSable Park near Navy Pier, where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan, close to DuSable’s original home.

 

Mayor Harold Washington dedicated in 1988 the 3.5-acre land as DuSable Park, a critical piece of Chicago’s lakefront park system. The park is very much desired by lakefront park advocates and residents in the nearby Streeterville and Near East Side neighborhoods, as well as Chicagoans desiring to commemorate Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable’s contributions to Chicago and its diversity.

 

A public river walk connects DuSable Park with Pioneer Court on Michigan Ave, the site of DuSable original home. Alderman Burton Natarus introduced and passed in 2004 a resolution designating this river esplanade as DuSable Founders Way. Like DuSable Park, DuSable Founders Way would include historical plaques and signage about early Chicago.

 

 

 

DuSable Park Chronology 

 

DuSable Park is a three-and- a-half acre undeveloped site situated where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. A concrete and steel seawall currently forms the boundary with the water on three sides: on the north, with Ogden Slip, a public navigable waterway; on the south, with the Chicago River; and on the east with Lake Michigan. The western boundary is Lake Shore Drive.

 

1770’s - Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable establishes a prosperous farm and trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River (now the site of the Tribune Tower).

 

1857 - The DuSable Park site, then shallow coastal land, is part of the grant of 46 acres of land to Dock and Canal Company, which promotes commercial and industrial development in the area but retains ownership ofthe underlying land.

 

1893 - The DuSable Park site is filled in by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, possibly as part of the Chicago Dock and Canal Ship Basin Project (now known as Ogden Slip), to connect cargo boats with railroads at North Pier.

 

1906 - Lindsay Light & Chemical Co. operates in the area owned by Dockand Canal Company. With its main facility at 161 E. Grand Avenue, Lindsay Light extracts thorium from monazite ore. The waste included radioactive tailings.

 

1928 - The National DeSaible Memorial Society (since 1966 the Chicago DuSable League) is formed to commemorate and promote appreciation of Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable as the first permanent settler and founding father of Chicago.

 

1962 - The Chicago Dock & Canal Company, reorganized as the Chicago Dock & Canal Trust begins a master plan for residential and commercial development.

 

1985 - This development is approved as a 40-acre planned development with three open space areas dedicated to the Chicago Park District: River Esplanade, Ogden Park, and the future park to be named by Mayor Harold Washington in 1987 for DuSable.

 

1988 - Ownership of the DuSable Park site is transferred to the Chicago Park District (CPD) through a quit claim deed.

 

1996 - Keer-McGee and River East L.L.C. are named as the parties responsible for investigating & cleaning up suspected radioactive contamination in Streeterville, including DuSable Park.

 

1998 - The Amended Planned Development for River East Development includes DuSable Park with a matched contribution from the private development corporation, MCL, totaling $600,000.

 

1999/2000 - Chicago Park District budget includes $1,200,000 fordevelopment of DuSable Park; The B.F. Ferguson Fund of the Art Institute of Chicago commissions internationally renowned sculptor, Martin Puryear,to create a commemorative sculpture for DuSable Park.

 

2000 - Chicago Park District’s proposal for a temporary parking lot on theDuSable Park site creates a public outcry, and the DuSable Park Coalition is formed, composed of park advocacy, community organizations, and groupsdesiring to commemorate DuSable.

 

2001 - Laurie Palmer, School of the Art Institute, invites DuSable Parkproposals for 3 Acres on the Lake; DuSable Park Coalition with the Chicago Architecture Foundation presented an exhibition of the DuSable Park designs and hosted a symposium: Hidden in Plain View.

 

2003 - With Support of public officials (local, state and federal), the Chicago Park District makes significant progress to develop DuSable Park, including: Environmental cleanup Establishment of the DuSable Park Steering Committee Formulation of concept plan for DuSable Park which includes the Art Institute’s (Ferguson Fund) commission with Martin Puryear,internationally renowned artistaccess issues and establishes responsibilities and schedule.

 

2004 - Chicago Park District includes DuSable Park in the Capital improvement Budget and releases a Request for Proposals for the design/engineering contract with selection scheduled for November and park construction in 2006. Alderman Natarus introduced and passed an ordinance designating the river esplanade between DuSable Park and Pioneer Court on Michigan Ave., as the “DuSable Founders Way”.

 

2006 - Chicago Park District, with input from the steering Committee, releases a design booklet for DuSable Park. The cost of building the park amounts to about $12,000,000, with $3 million pledged by CPD and $3 million by City of Chicago.

 

2007 - Chicago Spire Development agrees to build DuSable Park, if allowed to use the park as a construction-staging area for four years.

 

2008-2012 - Chicago Spire suspends construction of its high-rise and declares bankruptcy. DuSable Park remains undeveloped.

 

2014 - DuSable Park Coalition resumes its efforts to develop the park and creates the DuSable Park Foundation. A new developer expresses interest inthe old Spire land adjacent to the park.

 

2015 – DuSable Heritage Association launches a petition urging immediate construction of DuSable Park.

 

 

 

DuSable Park Steering Committee (2003) 

 

Art Institute of Chicago

 

Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad, Chicago Chapter

 

Bronzeville Children’s Museum

 

Chicago DuSable League

 

Chicago River Rowing and Paddling Center

 

DuSable Heritage Association

 

DuSable Park Project

 

Friends of the Chicago River

 

Friends of DuSable

 

Friends of DuSable Park

 

Friends of the Parks

 

Grant Park Conservancy

 

Grant Park Advisory Council

 

Midwest Association of Haitian American Women

 

Near Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR)

 

Streeterville Organization for Active Residents (SOAR)

  

DHA is grateful to Friends of the Parks for much of the content on this approximate chronology of DuSable Park.

© 2020 DuSable Heritage Association