Hartigan Beach is a quiet respite in bustling northern Chicago. The park surrounding the waterfront is home to a large playground for children as well as shady areas for a relaxing picnic. There’s a pier leading out to an abandoned lighthouse with impressive city views. Swimming is allowed while lifeguards are on duty, so it’s a great place to spend the day in the sun.
Hartigan Beach History
You’ll hear locals refer to Hartigan Beach by one of its previous names: Albion, Columbia, North Shore or Pratt. The park was long known as Albion beach for its location on Albion Street where Rogers Park single-family residences line the block leading down to the water. The park was renamed in 1960 after the recently deceased 49th Ward Alderman David L. Hartigan.
Hartigan practiced as an attorney in the city’s treasurer office and served briefly as City Treasurer himself. He was elected alderman in 1955, and used his status to create additional parks and recreational spaces in the city.
Hartigan Beach and the surrounding park is one of the 18 street-end beaches acquired by the Chicago Park District in 1959. These beaches provided crucial recreation opportunities for Rogers Park residences.
Hartigan Beach Details
Today, the park still does not offer restrooms or changing facilities. There is, however, a sweeping green lawn with trees for shade, ideal for a picnic afternoon. A large children’s playground is accessible and covered with engineered wood fiber surface. The playground is one of the 327 playgrounds across the city renovated through Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! initiative.
The beach offers a large stretch of sandy waterfront. Swimming is permitted daily from 11am to 7pm, when a lifeguard is on duty. Distance swimming is allowed parallel to the shoreline, but lifeguards will be diligent that swimmers don’t go too far out. Dogs, alcohol, and smoking are prohibited. There is no paddle board or sport access to Lake Michigan Water Trail from Hartigan Beach. There are designated grilling areas for picnic-goers.
The best part about this piece is its charming pier, where visitors can walk to the end to see an old lighthouse. From there, take in great city and Lake Michigan views. You won’t find a crowded party atmosphere, but the beach is a great place to bring the kids for a swim, picnic, or afternoon on the playground.