Also called 41st Street Beach, Oakwood Beach is located in southern Chicago’s Indian Village neighborhood near the Oakland community. The city’s newest beach, it opened in 2010 at 4100 S. Lake Shore Drive. It boasts a pay-and-display parking lot, concessions at the Lunch Box, restrooms and an ADA-accessible beach walk. Distance swimming is allowed parallel to the shoreline.
Oakwood Beach History
Oakwood Beach’s short history began in the 1990s, when the Chicago Park District began an initiative to improve Burnham Park and strengthen open spaces along Chicago’s south lakefront. At the same time, the Park District partnered with the city and Army Corps of Engineers to improve revetments to protect the lake from erosion.
To kill two birds, if you will, community members suggested a new bathing beach in Burnham Park instead of the proposed concrete revetments. The largest space was determined to be 41st Street, so the Army Corps of Engineers began construction and also built piers and a stone-submerged breakwater to protect the beach from erosion.
The beach was constructed with sand from a Wisconsin quarry. Today, it spans seven acres and 1,300 feet along lake Michigan. Some modern eco-friendly bells and whistles were included as well, like a bioretention area to treat run-off from the parking area.
Environmental regulations were also top of mind with the construction of the new 41st Street Beach House. Muller and Muller architects designed the building in 2010 and followed LEED regulations. Among the eco-friendly characteristics is a water harvesting system that supplies the toilets with rainwater. The attractive red brick building has a hipped roof and an open loggia facing the lake.
Oakwood Beach Details
Getting to Oakwood Beach is easy. There’s a pay-and-display parking lot with plenty of space for drivers. Or, take public transit on the 4 Cottage Grove or 39 Pershing bus routes. Once you’re here, it’s easy to spend a whole day on the beach.
There’s no paddle sport access to the Lake Michigan water trail, but distance swimming is allowed parallel to the shore. Lifeguards are on duty each day from 11am to 7pm.
If you’re hungry, enjoy a meal at The Lunch Box or Gaspachotes, which serve up Mexican fare and hot dogs. There are restrooms and changing areas in the beach house. The beach also features an ADA-accessible beach walk.
Oakwood Beach Events
Oakwood or 41st Street Beach hosts an array of events throughout summer months. The all-ages Sandbox Symphony is held here, featuring live PA electronic music, visual arts, food and nature. The event gives praise to the Oakland/North Kenwood neighborhood’s arts and culture. There’s also a memorial pop-up gallery in honor of sculpture and art activist Milton Mizenburg.
Other festivals take place here as well, like the Love Village at Oakwood Beach. The festival welcomes iconic bands to bring communities together through music.
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