Free Jean Baptiste DuSable Commemoration and Tour
When: Sat, August 24, 2019, 11:30 PM-2:30PM
Where: Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue at Wacker Drive. Schedule below. Register here.
Join The DuSable Park Coalition for a commemoration ceremony for Jean Baptiste DuSable followed by a riverfront tour. The tour will highlight the site of Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable’s original residence and trading post, where he settled in 1770 and culminate along the newly renovated east end of the Riverwalk at Island Party Hut.
- Wreath Laying program & ceremony
- Riverfront Founders Trail Tour promptly after the ceremony
- Your invited to Join The DuSable Park Coalition at Island Party Hut for libation, friend making, and raffle drawing.
Brief history of DuSable Park
The story of that land (detail below) is that it was a superfund site and was dedicated as a park by Mayor Harold Washington in 1987. Washington died and now it’s been sitting undeveloped for 30 years. The group, who holds this annual commemoration, has been lobbying for about as long to get it built.
Now the Park District has hired someone to do further remediation on contaminated soil starting sometime this month. So it may be the last chance to see it before it’s dug up. Or work may have already started.
About DuSable Park
- DuSable Park is an undeveloped 3.3-acre peninsula of reclaimed land located along Lake Michigan directly east of North Lake Shore Drive and north of the Chicago River. It is not currently open to the public.
- DuSable Park is supposed to honor Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (ca. 1745-1818), the first non-Native American settler at Chicago.
- 1772 DuSable moved to Chicago, establishing a remote trading post near what is now Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan) next to the Tribune Tower.
- 1800 DuSable sold his property in Chicago and went to Peoria.
- 1893 The DuSable Park site is filled in by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- 1906 The site is used by a Light and Chemical company and eventually becomes a Superfund site polluted with radioactive thorium.
- 1964 Master Plan developed for area.
- 1985 Developers began to improve 60 acres of industrial land north of the river with residences and commercial structures (Cityfront Center).
- 1987 To provide parkland for the new Cityfront Center, the developer donates (thorium riddled) 3.3 acres of property to the Chicago Park District.
- 1987 Mayor Washington dedicates the land as DuSable Park.
- 1987 Mayor Washington dies.
- 1999 Chicago Park District budgets $1.2 million to develop DuSable Park.
- 1999 The B.F. Ferguson Fund of the Art Institute of Chicago commissions a commemorative sculpture for the Park.
- 2000 Chicago Park District proposes turning the park land into a “temporary” parking lot for two years. Public outcry halts plan.
- 2002 EPA cleans up park site.
- 2002 New budget estimate to build park including repairing the sea wall is $2.5m.
- 2003 New park steering committee battles over who DeSable was, what he did and what he looked like.
- 2003 New budget estimate to build park including repairing the sea wall is $6 million.
- 2004 The Streeterville Dog Club demands that park of future park include a dedicated dog area.
- 2004 Giant rabbits from park land overrun area townhouse yards eating all the greenery. Owners have to trap and move the bunnies on their own dime as the park district has no budget.
- 2005 Divers examine the sea wall and the new budget balloons to $12 million to replace the sea wall. The Park District looks to private, city, state and federal funding
- 2007 The developer of the Spire agrees to build the park in exchange for using the site as a staging area during construction.
- 2008 The Spire developer files for bankruptcy.
- 2016 Mayor Emanuel’s Building on Burnham plan to create more green space in the City does not mention DuSable Park.