If you've ever been on Lake Shore Drive near the Museum of Science and Industry, you've noticed the park that juts out into the lake, and maybe you've even caught a glimpse of a building mostly obscured by trees.
If you have, you've seen a portion of Burnham Park called Promontory Point. It’s a beautiful oasis that wouldn't be here today if not for Daniel Burnham's landmark plan of Chicago presented in 1909.
“It all had been completely filled in. It was just part of the lake, and they literally kind of just created this peninsula,” Chicago Park District Historian Julia Bachrach said.
Bachrach said it took until the1920s for the landfill project to get underway due to various regulatory and property rights issues, and then it took the Great Depression to spark the completion of Burnham's brain child.
Noted landscape designer Alfred Caldwell found the assignment in 1936, two years after the Chicago Park District was formed.
“The park district had access to huge amounts of funding through the federal government through President Roosevelt's relief programs. And so that's really what paid for this,” Bachrach said.
More than eight decades later, Chicagoans continue to reap the benefits. The main hall of the storybook-like shelter (as it was called on Caldwell's plan) is simple but stunning.
Massive wooden trusses provide a stark contrast to the limestone walls and a series of French doors look west towards the park and east towards the lake.
It almost looks like it belongs in the Cotswolds in England, with the turret, the limestone the slate roof. Receptions and special events at The Point often spill out to the patio.
The view towards downtown over the lake may have changed a bit over the years, but the waves crashing into the revetments, not so much. Today and yesteryear, the appeal hasn't changed.
“Part of the attraction of Chicago is Lake Michigan, so being so close to Lake Michigan, and then the beautiful, especially in the fall time, the trees changing colors, the walk up to Promontory Point is gorgeous. It is just a little gem on the lakefront,” said Diane Hren, Chicago Park District Director of Marketing and Special Events.
The field house is often used for weddings and other types of events.