The rumble rumble of the elevated train is one of the defining features of a visit via the CTA to the 184 acres that comprise the wonders of Garfield Park. Of course, most visitors know the stellar expanse of the Garfield Park Conservatory as one of the highlights, as well they should. It is open daily and admission is FREE.
But perhaps you might enjoy going for a swim at the lovely pool inside the park proper, wandering around the fishing lagoon, or even checking out some of their unique statues and memorials? Of note is Lincoln the Rail-splitter, a bronze that depicts the president in his youth and portrays his humble beginnings.
Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Avenue)As you step off the L train at the Conservatory-Central Park Drive Green Line station, you should walk a few hundred feet north to the main entrance of the Conservatory. Stepping inside, you’ll be in the warmth of the Palm House, which presents a stunning landscape that is truly transformative and restorative. After picking up a map for reference, you can wander into the Fern Room, the Monet Garden, and when they are in season, you can step outside to consider the bee hives on property.
You’d do well to check out their “Events, Programs & Shows” area to learn about upcoming special events, such as botany lectures, beekeeping courses, live concerts, and special exhibits. One that is particularly noteworthy currently is the Solarise: A See of All Colors art installation by Chicago artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero.
Drawing on inspiration from the groundbreaking work of landscape designer Jens Jensen (the fellow for designing much of Garfield Park), they’ve created five dynamic, immersive installations that feature LED lights, “sculptural interventions” of red and blue petals, and other flights of artistic innovation that engage even the most casual visitors. They’re truly a delight and these works are up until September 2016, so you’ll want to catch them as soon as possible.
Garfield Park Fieldhouse (100 N. Central Park Avenue)
After taking in this most wonderful art experience, walk on out and into the park and head in the direction of the gold dome. Never fear, it’s highly visible from all points and once upon a time it served as the administrative headquarters for the West Park Commission. This shiny structure once housed a range of regional offices for the sprawling park system and today it contains the formal field house, which features an outdoor swimming pool, meeting rooms, and other facilities for the general public. Make sure and walk around the entire facility as the architecture by Michaelsen and Rognstad features some elaborate details, particularly around the main entrance.
Inspiration Kitchens (3504 W. Lake Street)
Such an afternoon or morning will find you wanting to find something to nosh on after your wanderings. My nod goes to Inspiration Kitchens, which works to bring those seeking new employment opportunities into the hospitality world. It’s giving people a hand up via the world of cuisine and you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy comfort foods such as shrimp and grits, spiced tofu étouffée, and chicken and gravy.
This is part of an ongoing series exploring Chicago from A to Z, highlighting a unique place for each letter of the alphabet. Stay tuned for more entries!
Additional image credits: City of Chicago, Chicago Park District