Garfield Park covers more than 172 acres in Chicago’s East Garfield Park Community. Its crown jewel is the historic Golden Dome Field House, which features a gymnasium, dance studio, auditorium, fitness center and grand ballroom. There are also ample opportunities for outdoor fun, with a swimming pool, sporting fields, a fishing lagoon and floral gardens. Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! Program helped to renovate the parks many playgrounds in recent years. The park offers an array of both recreational and cultural opportunities throughout the year.
Garfield Park Features
In the late 1860s, the West Park Commission renamed the 185-acre Central Park to honor President James A. Garfield. Famous Chicago landscape architect Jens Jensen experimented his evolving prairie style on the park. He also created the Garfield Park Conservatory in 1908, still a hidden gem in the city.
The Conservatory spans 4.5 acres of gardens under glass. Today, it still features Jensen’s vision to recreate Chicago’s prehistoric landscape with an array of palms and ferns. It also features a children’s garden where kids can get down and dirty and the Monet Garden, featuring the painter’s impressionistic colorful gardens. The Conservatory is a popular venue for educational field trips, flower shows and special events.
Inside, the Persian Pool is a popular exhibition installed in 2001. The vision of artist Dale Chihuly, the pool features a Garden of Glass, where floating glass lily pads combine nature with art. Other public artworks in the park include the Whirling Dervish painted steel sculpture by Ruth Aizuss-Migdal and the historic World’s Fair Bulls with Maidens, created in 1893.
In 1928, the West Park Commission built the Golden Dome Building as its administrative headquarters. In 1934, it was no longer needed for administration and was repurposed as the park’s fieldhouse, which it still serves as today. The field house is home to a gymnasium, dance studio, auditorium, fitness center, boxing gym, meeting rooms and a grand ballroom.
Outside, visitors find a large swimming pool, a fishing lagoon and tennis courts. There are also many fields for baseball, soccer and football. The park offers many experiences and amenities for children, which were recently revamped as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! Program. There are several playgrounds as well as an artificial turf field, home to the Owls LaCrosse teams and the park district’s community programs. Kids also enjoy a water spray feature and colorful mosaics on the playground depicting animals like monkeys, butterflies and bumble bees.
The Garfield Park Natural Area covers almost 18 acres of woodland, lagoon and wetland habitats. Throughout the path, paths and trails weave and bob for exploration on foot or bicycle.
Garfield Park Events
Garfield Park hosts many sporting events throughout the year, as well as day camps in the summer and after-school programs all year long. The Najwa Dance Troupe and Chicago West Music Center call the park home for its cultural performances. The park is also a popular destination for special events like Black History festivals, Movies in the Park, Haunted Houses for Halloween, concerts and Chicago Night Out in the Park events.
Additionally, many spaces in the park are available for rent, including the grand ballroom—a popular venue for wedding receptions.