2210 West Pershing Road
Chicago, IL 60609
Phone: (312) 747-6527
At the beginning of the 20th century, the superintendent of the South Park Commission, J. Frank Foster, began envisioning a new type of park facility. Possibly influenced by the social reformers of the era, Foster sought to create a park that would provide residents with social services as well as an escape from the urban jungle that dominated the working class and immigrant communities of Chicago. The South Park Commission began to acquire land near the Union Stockyards and opened McKinley Park in 1902.
More than 10,000 people attended the park's dedication on June 13, 1902 and took advantage of the new facility’s ball fields, playgrounds, swimming lagoon, and community programs. McKinley Park was so successful that the South Park Commission began creating a new system of parks the following year. These innovative community parks became a model for other neighborhood parks across the United States.
At the entrance of the park stands a statue of the 25th president of the United States, William McKinley. At the time of construction, the United States was in the midst of a recession and sculptor Charles Mulligan came up with a creative means of saving money on materials. Mulligan acquired a publicly scorned statue of Christopher Columbus that once sat on the lakefront at Congress Parkway. He melted the mocked Columbus and recast the statue in the likeness of William McKinley.
McKinley Park continues to serve Chicago’s West Side by providing meeting rooms and assembly halls, outdoor spaces for baseball and basketball, a gym, gymnastic programs, paths for walking, jogging, and cycling, tennis courts, swimming facilities, a spray pool, and a water playground.