Margaret T. Burroughs Beach and Park is located between the communities of Prairie Shores and Lake Meadows. Also called 31st Street Beach, the location offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline from the south. Beachgoers also enjoy amenities like restrooms and concessions at the new LEED-certified beachouse. There’s also an ADA-accessible playground and a green roof picnic area in the neighboring park.
Margaret T. Burroughs Beach History
Margaret T. Burroughs Beach was known as 31st Street Beach up until 2015, when a coalition of public officials led a movement to change the name. Thousands of residents signed petitions to change the name after Burroughs, founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
Burroughs was also an accomplished artist, poet, teacher, and civic leader. She was born in Louisiana but moved to Chicago during the Great Migration. She earned a teaching certificate from Chicago Teachers College before receiving degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an honorary doctorate from Lewis University. Burroughs helped to create the South Side Community Art Center and in the early 1960s, Margaret and her husband Charles Burroughes founded the DuSable Museum.
Margaret T Burroughs Beach and park is technically considered to be a feature of Burnham Park. Created by Daniel H. Burnham in 1927, the park stretches 609 acres along the Chicago lakefront.
Burroughs Beach Details
At Pier 31 in southern Chicago, it’s easy to get to Burroughs Beach. There’s a pay and display parking lot, oy you can take the bus on the 3 King Drive, 4 Cottage Grove, or 35 31st/35th lines.
Once you’re here, there’s plenty on offer to keep you busy for the whole day. The beach offers impressive city views, which can be soaked in along with the rays. Swimming is allowed during lifeguarded hours from 11am to 7pm each day. The beach butts up against the 31st Street Harbor, which is home to 1,000 floating slips for large boats. The beach is even WiFi enabled, so you can upload that gorgeous waterfront picture as soon as you snap it.
Next to the harbor, visitors find an ADA-accessible playground and a “green roof” picnic area, as well as an indoor parking garage and winter boat storage. Here, you’ll find a public fishing dock, harbor store, and community room.
The beach is home to a new LEED-certified beach house, which has restrooms and food concessions. Newly revamped trails line the shore for walking, biking, and taking in the views. Due to the surrounding motor boating, there is no paddle sport access to the Lake Michigan Water trail from Margaret T. Burroughs Beach.
Burroughs Beach Events
This park hosts the yearly FLOAT at Burroughs Beach. The free annual event in July is a memorial to Eugene Williams, a young black man who was murdered in 1919. The event is an act of remembrance for riots that occurred that summer a century ago. More than 100 participants will peacefully drift off that historic, metaphorical racial barrier using inflatables to reclaim a site of violence into a peaceful one. The event finishes with a procession and is recommended for children and adults age 12 and older.