obedient plant

Marquette Park

Marquette Park, the largest park on the southwest side of Chicago at , is located at in Community Area 66, or Chicago Lawn, in Chicago, Illinois. The park is named for Father Jacques Marquette (1637-1675).


Planning and Development

Marquette Park is part of a system of 14 parks designed in 1903 by the Olmsted Brothers. At in size, it is the largest of the revolutionary neighborhood parks created by the South Park Commission in the early 20th century. The Superintendent at the time, J. Frank Foster, envisioned the "new parks as beautifully landscaped 'breathing spaces' that would provide educational and social services to the city's congested immigrant neighborhoods."1 "Social reformers launched a playground movement for the creation of additional parks."4 In 1899 and 1903 the state legislature authorized the three park commissions: Lincoln Park Commission; West Park Commission; and the South Park Commission; to acquire property for new parks. "The South Park Commission opened a system of 10 innovative neighborhood parks in 1905, which soon inspired similar parks in the West and Lincoln Park systems and in other cities across the United States."1

The original plans for Marquette Park called for "a golf course on two islands surrounded by naturalistic lagoons; indoor and outdoor gymnasiums; swimming and wading pools; a children's playground; formal gardens; and a concert grove."1 Due to its size, construction of the park went more slowly than most of the others in the system, and several features of the original plan were dropped due to difficulties with the landscape. Still, in 1913, the 18-hole golf course opened and "by 1917, the park included playing fields, a children's playground, tennis courts, propagating houses for the nursery, and a large, classically-designed golf shelter."1,3 In the early 1930s, the Great Depression caused the bankruptcy of the individual park districts. In 1934, the 22 independent agencies were consolidated into the Chicago Park District.4 After the consolidation of Chicago's park commissions into the Chicago Park District in 1934, park workers redesigned the golf shelter, built comfort stations, and expanded the walking paths in the park to include the islands. In 1935, public support helped secure a statue honoring Lithuanian-American aviators Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas who perished tragically during the transatlantic flight of the Lituanica.1


Martin Luther King decided to take his protest north in 1966. He led a group of marchers (protesters) into the all-white housing areas near Marquette Park in Chicago. It was one of King's finest moments. The reaction of Northern white people was even worse than that from the South. The protesters had bottles, bricks and rocks thrown at them - one of the bricks hit King himself but he was not severely hurt and continued with the march.

The incident at Marquette Park was part of the protests led by the Chicago Freedom Movement (of which King was co-chairman). It was a year-long campaign for open housing. It started in January 1966 when King and his wife Coretta moved into a North Lawndale slum (on the west side of Chicago). King and the movement wanted to make Chicago a racially open city. They wanted it to be a place where everyone could live without fear of racial attacks.

The march was not as successful as King and the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) had hoped. A rather vague agreement was created with Richard J. Daley (the Mayor of Chicago) containing unkept promises of open housing legislation and improving living conditions. It was an eye opener for King and the SCLC and showed just how violent the Northern white people could be.

This march was part of a series of marches coordinated by the Chicago Freedom Movement the marriage of King's SCLC and the CCCO (Coordinating Council of Chicago Organizations) lead by King's co-leader in Chicago Al Raby.

There are several books that deal with King and Raby's "Northern Experiment". Arguably the best is Northern Protest by historian James Ralph.

It is a common misbelief that the incident in which Dr. King was struck with a rock happened in Cicero rather than Marquette Park. The Chicago Freedom Movement never marched in Cicero.

It is the fortieth anniversary of the Chicago Freedom Movement, in commemoration a three day conference is being held in mid-July by Chicago community organizers, veterans of the Chicago Freedom Movement, academics. The official site of the Chicago Freedom Movement and the most detailed web accessible source of CFM information is www.cfm40.org.

The park today

Ashburn Prairie

Marquette Park’s three and a half acre Ashburn prairie remnant has a very special history. The story begins during the pre-settlement era at 87th Street and Kedzie Avenue on a two-acre lot near the Evergreen Cemetery. It was at this location that the original Ashburn prairie thrived, untouched by farming, housing and commercial development. The mesic prairie contained nearly 100 species of native plants. Forbs such as Mountain Mint (Pycanthemum verticillatum), Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum), Nodding Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes cernua), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Prairie Dock (Silphium perfoliatum), Compass Plant (Silphium lacinatum), and Obedient-plant (Physostegia virginiana) were found at the prairie. Grasses such as Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) were also present.

Looming land development threatened the rare patch of prairie. But a heroic effort by the Park District and members of the public resulted in the prairie being moved to Marquette Park. In the spring in 1993, the Park District dug up several plugs of prairie using a tree spade. Each plug measured four to five feet across. With the important roots of these prairie plant plugs intact, crews carefully transported these huge plugs to Marquette Park. There, the rescue team drilled holes and installed the huge plugs near the edge of the lagoon. Fortunately, the soil profile at the old site was similar to the soil profile at the new site, and overall the prairie rescue was a success. Most of the flowers bloomed the very first year in their new home. As the prairie began to settle into its new home, prairie reconstruction activities continued. Volunteers seeded, planted and weeded between the tree-spaded remnants, and in the areas north of the remnants. To this day, Ashburn Prairie thrives on the commitment of dedicated volunteer stewards.

The prairie is located along the edge of the lagoon, south of Mann St., east of Kedzie Avenue.2

Golf Course

The Marquette Park Golf Course is a nine-hole par 36 course featuring elevated tees and greens as well as spacious fairways. Water comes into play on seven of the nine golf holes. The golf course practice facilities include a a driving range, a putting green, and chipping green and sand bunkers. KemperGolf Management serves as manager of the Marquette Park Golf Course as it does for all Chicago Park District golf facilities. Superbly Conditioned, the golf course is perhaps the most challenging in the Chicago Park District system.

Course Architect: Tom Bendelow Greens & Fairways: Greens - Bent Grass, Fairways - Rye Grass Golf Instructor: Mike Harriga


  • Auditoriums
  • Baseball
  • Golf Course
  • Gyms
  • Meeting Rooms/Assembly Halls
  • Men's and/or Women's Locker Rooms/Showers
  • Parking Lots
  • Paths (Jogging/Walking/Bicycling)
  • Tennis Courts
  • Soccer Fields Marquette F.C.


The official address for Marquette Park is: 6734 S. Kedzie Ave. Chicago, IL 60629

Park operators and information can be reached at 312-747-6469


  • Chicago Park District
  • Chicago Park District Nature Areas
  • Illinois History: A Magazine for Young People
  • Encyclopedia of Chicago: Park Districts

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