Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool | The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Geoffrey Baer explores the beautiful Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.
Nestled behind a gate off busy Fullerton Avenue in Lincoln Park is the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. The street is often packed with cars heading to and from DuSable Lake Shore Drive, and the sidewalks are bustling with foot traffic, but once you’re inside the garden, it’s all serenity and beauty. The pool was first created in 1889 for growing tropical water lilies and other aquatic plants, but it was neglected over time. Then landscape architect Alfred Caldwell came along, and he redesigned the pond in 1936 as a “hidden garden” in the city. According to its city landmark designation, Caldwell’s vision for the prairie school-style garden “was that of an open, sunny environment that emulated a prairie stream.” The pool is meant to mimic the flow of water created by a melting glacier as it cuts through rock. The garden is full of native plants, and a flagstone walkway traces the edge of the pond. A pavilion made of oak and limestone sits at the edge of the pond, its low roof extending over the water. Over time, the pool once again fell into disrepair after its neighbor, the Lincoln Park Zoo, used it for its flamingos and other exotic birds. Between 2000 and 2002, it was restored and is once again a peaceful haven in the midst of the city. The garden is open only in warmer months, between April and October.