North Park Village Nature Center is an oasis within the city offering free family events year round.
Where: North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Rd., (312) 744-5472. For more info about NPV here. Schedule subject to change always call ahead to confirm.
About North Park Village
- In the early 1800s, farmers drained the wet areas in the area of the nature center to plant crops.
- Also at that time a tree nursery was established under the ownership of Norwegian immigrant Pehr Petersen. Mr. Peterson provided all the trees and shrubs for the World’s Fair in 1893, most of the trees in Lincoln Park and up to seven-eighths of all the trees planted in Chicago’s parkways and boulevards by 1910.
- In 1911, Chicago acquired the land from Peterson’s family and used 158 acres to create the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. This buffer of nature was used to prevent the disease from spreading, and to heal the patients admitted here. Portions of the land were changed into paths, gardens for growing food, fields to play and a pond for recreation.
- The building that would become the Nature Center (see picture above) was originally the Sanitarium’s dispensary, where certain patients could come to get their medications. Patients were here into the 1970s when the Sanitarium was closed.
- In the 1980s, plans were to raze the land and construct strip malls and condominiums. However, community activists rallied against these plans, ushering in the preservation of North Park Village.
- In 1989, an easement was enacted to prohibit any development of this property and to define how it was to be maintained as a natural area for 75 years. Efforts are being made by today’s community activists to extend this protection into perpetuity.
- On April 1, 2004 the Nature Center became part of the Chicago Park District. Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem.