In the early 1900s, some of the independent Chicago Park Districts began building natatorium facilities with showers, indoor swimming pools, and gyms, to provide public bathing (Bath Houses) and recreational opportunities to the city's community parks with the quickly increasing number of residents.
By 1915, Mayor Carter H. Harrison II and the West Chicago Park Commission had hit upon the idea of building natatoriums adjacent to city water pumping stations to take advantage of the excess steam generated there. The Springfield Avenue natatorium, nicknamed "The Springfield Tank" was adjacent to the pumping station in the Humboldt Park Community. It was one of three such facilities under construction that year. The others were the Roseland Natatorium (later Griffith Natatorium, in Block Park) and the Central Park Avenue (Jackson) Natatorium.
|The Springfield Tank at Beilfuss Park in Chicago|
The current "Chicago Park District" was created in 1934 by the Illinois Legislature under the Park Consolidation Act. By provisions of that act, the Chicago Park District consolidated and superseded the then-existing 22 separate park districts in Chicago, the largest three of which were the Lincoln Park, West Park, and South Park Districts, all of which had been established in 1869.
|Beilfuss Park, 1725 North Springfield Avenue, Chicago.|
The park district replaced the original play equipment with a new soft surface playground in 1992. In 1998, the out of date, 1915 natatorium was razed.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.