Jackson Park, located on the Mississippi Flyway along Lake Michigan, is internationally recognized for its protection of huge numbers of migrating birds (many endangered). Here more than three-fourths of all migrating bird species seen in Illinois pass through. These exquisite birds sometimes pause to rest and feed, providing memorably beautiful views. In April, May, August, and September, scientists (ornithologists), bird watchers and nature lovers gather to view what is an internationally famous spectacle. Observers count at least 25 species of warblers here, along with orioles, grosbeaks, hummingbirds, vireos, flycatchers, sparrows, swallows and martins. Peregrine Falcons hunt for shorebirds and other species. Myriad duck species, scoters and loons also fly along the shoreline during these migrations.
The Park’s Beginnings
Jackson Park was designed in the 1890s by the world famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as an unbuilt, meadow, lagoon and tree-filled antidote to the stress and artificialness of Chicago’s urban life. By 1906, the entire park had been transformed into a pastoral urban setting for Chicago residents to escape the confines of the city and connect with nature.
The Need For Protection
Conflicts arose between the city’s moneyed and political interests, and its preservation and restoration-minded residents.
Coordinated and single-minded efforts by powerful politicians and wealthy corporations succeeded in intimidating and silencing even the most committed environmentalists. Few to none have dared to speak up and protest the city’s gift of 20 acres of a beautiful lakefront park – that belongs to the public – to a private foundation.
Jackson Park is on the brink of permanent transformation from a magnificent scenery-dominated outdoor space dedicated to the enjoyment of nature and outdoor sports. Will the Obama Foundation’s vision prevail and turn Jackson Park into a Millennium Park-like park for tourists, featuring a 12 story tower (bird trap), a plaza designed to hold food trucks, and a 450 car/bus exhaust spewing garage?