Friday, November 10, 2017

A Brief History of the Old Chicago Park District Administration Building at Soldier Field. (1939-2001)

An 1895 state act allowed voters within newly annexed areas to create their own park districts. By 1930, 19 new park districts had been formed resulting in a total of 22 independent agencies operating simultaneously in the city. The smaller park districts often wanted to build fieldhouses, and many of them hired local architect Clarence Hatzfeld to design their buildings.

By 1934, all of Chicago’s 22 park districts were hindered by the Great Depression. To reduce duplication of services, streamline operations and gain access to funding through President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, voters approved the Park Consolidation Act of 1934, which established the Chicago Park District (CPD). In order to create jobs, the newly established CPD hired architects, engineers and landscape architects to produce record plans and drawings that provide a detailed understanding of the park buildings and landscapes as they appeared in the 1930s.
North facade; view from Field Museum rooftop - Chicago Park District Administration Building, 425 East McFetridge Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
The Chicago Park District Administration Building was built in 1939, at the end of the Great Depression, for the new Chicago park district, the long, four-story limestone building abutted Soldier Field's northern edge. The headquarters, with its strong WPA modern design and European modernist inflections, was unusual for Chicago because so little on that scale was built here in the 1930s. 

The Administration Building was demolished in 2001 and the agency took up residence, as renters, at 541 N. Fairbanks, Chicago, Illinois.
North facade detail, view to south - Chicago Park District Administration Building, 425 East McFetridge Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
South facade including Soldier Field parking lot and bleachers; view to north - Chicago Park District Administration Building, 425 East McFetridge Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
South facade; view to northwest from east bleachers - Chicago Park District Administration Building, 425 East McFetridge Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
Dining room, basement view to east - Chicago Park District Administration Building, 425 East McFetridge Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
"Secret Garden" exterior dining court view to northeast - Chicago Park District Administration Building, 425 East McFetridge Drive, Chicago, Illinois.



In my Digital Research Library of Illinois History® is the free PDF book: The Chicago Park District: history, background, organization

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