In the 1830’s, when Chicago incorporated as a city, its still-growing government adopted the motto “Urbs in horto,” a Latin saying that means “City in a Garden.” Though the city did not have as many green spaces then as it does now, Chicago’s growth can be measured by the expansion of its network of parks and boulevards into the present. Some of them played host to some of events that made Chicago stand out as a cultural hub and marker of progress in the United States and as the battlegrounds for some of the most fraught political events of the 20th century. For instance, the construction and use of Jackson Park as the site of the 1893 Colombian Exposition helped Chicago stand out as a marker of the progress made in American culture and technology, and as a certifiable “Paris of the Midwest.” On the other hand, Lincoln and Grant Parks served as the battleground between Vietnam-era, antiwar activists and city and federal law enforcement in 1968.
As you walk through the parks of Chicago, how does the green landscape capture or erase the history of these spaces? How did these gardens nurture the seeds that were the greatest and most infamous of political events and culture to come out of the Windy City? Find out more at this newest online collection in the “Paris of the Midwest: Chicago, 1837-1987” project. We stroll amidst the history of the city in its parks every day. Come discover it with me.