The Future For Chicago’s Most Remote Park

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Lakefront Trail is a paved path that extends 18 miles from Edgewater to South Shore.

Often viewed as the city’s most iconic park, it welcomes runners, walkers and cyclists from all over, including Eric Potash, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.

Potash contends that the trail part of the Chicago Lakefront Trail is “absurd,” saying, “For most of its length, this paved path runs adjacent to a four lane highway!”

So, Potash got to programming.

He wrote a computer program and figured out the seven most remote parks in Chicago — or, the ones farthest from a street.

Surprisingly, the most remote park in the city doesn’t even have a name. Rather, it’s referred to as Park No. 566, and it’s part of the old massive US Steel South Works plant on the South side.

South Works, who took ownership of the land in 1901, produced steel for decades. It closed in 1992 due to nationwide changes in the steel industry. According to the Chicago Park District, all of the buildings that made up South Works were demolished in the late 1990’s.

“Although today Park 566 looks like vacant land, not long ago the site was dominated by heavy industry. Much of that infrastructure remains, including building foundations, sewers, underground tunnels, roadways, and railroad tracks,” the Park District says.

In 2015, the Park District organized community meetings aimed at developing a vision for Park 566. While the park’s unique history allowed for opportunities, it also brought forth constraints. However, after three general public meetings, a game plan for the park’s more than 500 acres began to develop.

According to the Park District, “several different factors” influenced the direction the planning process took, but it can primarily be based on the “industrial history of the site.”

The Lakeside Master Plan, as it is now known, features everything from native landscape and nature-themed playgrounds to fitness stations and multi-purpose open spaces. There will also be access to Lake Michigan, as well as on-site parking.

Oh, and trails? But of course!

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