Mother nature is front and center in the 207-acre Humboldt Park, situated on the West Side of Chicago in the neighborhood of the same name. Opened in the late 1870s, the park was named after Alexander von Humboldt, a German botanist and naturalist. The park was developed by William Le Baron Jenney, who molded the flat prairie into a “pleasure ground” complete with horseback riding trails and lagoons. In the following decades, landscape architect Jans Jensen put his stamp on the park, incorporating rose gardens and a fieldhouse, boathouse and music pavilion. Jensen also connected Jenney’s twin lagoons with a river. In recent years, the Chicago Park District worked with local organizations to improve the Jensen Formal Garden. Today, the park offers a pastoral walk into the past of the splendor of the early 20th century.
Humboldt Park Features
The 1907 Prairie School Boathouse is the park’s crown jewel, deemed a Chicago Landmark in 1996. Today, the boathouse is home to a seasonal cafe that offers picturesque water views in the summer. Near the boathouse, you’ll find a ten-foot-tall monument of Alexander von Humboldt, sculpted by Felix Gorling.
At the east end of the park, you’ll find the formal gardens. A pair of bronze American Bison have been situated here since 1915.
The fieldhouse features a fitness center, meeting rooms and to gymnasiums. Here, you can also access the inland beach and historic lagoons.
There are also several recreational facilities at the park, like an artificial turf soccer field, baseball fields, tennis courts, and a miniature replica of the Chicago Cubs Stadium called Little Cubs Field.
Puerto Rican leaders in the community lease the Humboldt Park stables near Paseo Boricua. Today, this houses the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. The facility has been open since 2009, and is the only museum of its kind in the city.
You can also enjoy the rich culture of Puerto Rico in the form of street vendors and food trucks who sell meat dumplings, fried plantains and other specialities of the region. Follow your nose, but most of the trucks are parked on Kedzie Avenue at North Avenue and Hirsch Street.
Throughout, you can find playgrounds, beaches, a waterfall, wind turbines and picnic island. Grab some tostones and find a grassy spot to spread out and enjoy the fresh air!
Humboldt Park Events
The park hosts many after school programs throughout the year as well as summer camps stretching six weeks in warmer months. There are also specialty camps, like baseball camp, offered throughout the summer.
Along with community programs, the park hosts special family events throughout the year. In the summer, Movies in the Park and Shakespeare in the Park are popular draws. The Boat House is home to many free cultural events in the summer, as well.
The park has hosted larger music festivals in the past, including the punk rock Riot Fest and Carnival.