5531 S. Martin Luther King Dr.
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 256-1248
In 1869, Chicago’s newly established South Park Commission began the process of creating a park along 1055 acres of land just south of Chicago. Originally called South Park, the property was composed of two separate eastern and western divisions, which later became Jackson and Washington Parks. The commissioners hired Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the landscape architects who co-designed Central Park in New York City, to create the original plan for South Park.
Olmsted and Vaux produced an elaborate plan for South Park in 1871, but the Great Chicago Fire delayed construction and caused many of the intricacies of the Olmsted-Vaux plan to be put on hold. In 1872, construction on the western division of South Park began. The division was renamed Washington Park in 1881 to honor the first president of the United States. During the later part of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, more additions were made to the park, including horse stables, a refectory, and the building that would become the administrative headquarters for the South Park Commission.
Today, the administration building is home to the DuSable Museum of African-American History. Washington Park’s facilities include a fitness center, a gym, outdoor basketball courts, paths for jogging, walking or cycling, playgrounds, an aquatic center, swimming facilities, and tennis courts. The Chicago Park District offers a variety of group programs for children, teens, adults, and seniors at little or no cost.