Sans Souci had notable ties to the World's Columbian Exposition, which took place in 1893. The Exposition's most celebrated components were the industrial, commercial, and cultural exhibits of the "White City" in Jackson Park, so-called because of the white-colored, neo-classical buildings in which the exhibits were housed. The less-celebrated but much more profitable part of the Exposition was the "Midway Plaisance," a mile-long stretch of popular amusements between Jackson Park and Washington Park. These amusements included eateries, theaters, and a few unusual rides, including the original Ferris wheel and the Snow and Ice Railway. The financial success of the Midway demonstrated that money could be made entertaining the urban masses and encouraged the creation of similar places of amusement after the exposition closed.
On the Northwest corner of 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue there was a replica of an 1849 Mining Camp which opened in 1895, complete with a large Dance Pavilion and a beer garden named "Rest for the Weary."
Their new ten-acre park, dubbed Sans Souci after the famous palace of Prussian king Frederick the Great, was bounded by Cottage Grove and Langley Avenues on the east and west, and 60th and 61st Streets on the north and south.
|Sans Souci Main Entrance at 60th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago.|
In February 1913, Sans Souci's owners, unable to retire a mortgage, sold the park to another group of investors. Searching for ways to return the prominent site to profitable uses, the new owners at first demolished many of the amusement park's rides and then turned over operation of its ballroom, skating rink, and Casino to outside concessionaires. This scaled-back Sans Souci reopened for the 1913 season but did little to regain lost patrons. Following the 1913 season, the park's owners announced plans to replace Sans Souci with a large summer concert garden designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and would name it "Midway Gardens." Most of the former Sans Souci site is today occupied by housing developments built after World War II, following the demolition of Midway Gardens.
Written by Neil Gale, Ph.D. - copyright © 2016