1402 South Sacramento Drive
Chicago, IL 60623
Phone: (773) 762-2842
Shortly after the establishment of the West Side Park Commission in 1869, landscape designer and architect William Le Baron Jenney was commissioned to design the entire system of West Side parks and boulevards. Jenney, who is often referred to as the "Father of the Skyscraper," drafted a plan that called for the creation of three large parks, connected by formal boulevards and dotted with tranquil squares.
Jenney was faced with a new set of challenges in constructing these parks and boulevards, as the marshy land was a poor natural site for any park. His background in engineering proved to be useful in transforming Douglas Park, as he chose to create a series of lagoons rather than drain the swamps. Jenney filled the site with a mixture of manure and sand from the Chicago stockyards to level the grounds.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the West Park Commission was infested with corrupt political alliances. The three major West Side parks, Douglas, Garfield, and Humboldt , had fallen into a state of disrepair. As part of a reform effort, Jens Jensen was appointed to the position of Chief Landscape Architect for the West Park System in 1905. Jensen, a Danish immigrant who was fired from his position as Superintendent of Humboldt Park five years earlier because of his attempts to fight corruption within the Commission, focused on cultivating a native Midwestern scene. He created meadows lined with native trees, wildflowers transferred from local woods, and rustic benches. His landscaping became known as Prairie Style.
Today, Douglas is not only a magnificent park but also a cultural and community center. In addition to offering the athletic facilities common in the larger Chicago parks, Douglas provides the community with artistic and educational programs.