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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Park District Supports Push To Make Promontory Point A City Landmark

Supporters say the move will better ensure Promontory Point's iconic limestone steps are preserved.

People swim in Lake Michigan at Promontory Point in Hyde Park on an exceptionally hot Sept. 20, 2022 afternoon.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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HYDE PARK — The Chicago Park District board is backing a popular push to landmark Promontory Point that supporters say will better ensure the Point’s iconic limestone steps are preserved.

Promontory Point, which runs from 54th to 56th streets on the lakefront, took a step toward designation as a Chicago landmark last month with preliminary approval from a the city’s landmarks commission.

Landmark status would ensure “an extra step of oversight” toward preserving the Point’s limestone as city and federal agencies reinforce Chicago’s shoreline, supporters say. The beloved gathering space is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Park District’s vote Wednesday makes for smoother sailing as the city and advocates work to finalize the landmark status. City leaders sought the Park District’s endorsement because the agency owns the Point.

Some advocates voiced concerns this month that Wednesday’s vote could have held up the landmarking process, though the landmarks commission and City Council could have designated the Point without the Park District’s consent.

The landmark proposal could be introduced to City Council next month, with a final vote possible at the council’s April meeting, officials said. 

That would also mark the last council meeting for retiring Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who has been a vocal advocate for preserving the Point’s iconic limestone steps since the early 2000s.

Jack Spicer, president of the Promontory Point Conservancy; Julia Bachrach, former Park District historian and preservationist who wrote the Point’s successful nomination for the National Register of Historic Places; and other neighbors and advocates called for the board’s support prior to Wednesday’s vote.

“We understand that this has been a long time coming — over 20 years — and you have been persistent in your advocacy,” Park District board President Myetie Hamilton said. “I am happy … to support this.”

The city committed $5 million last month to design reinforcements to Promontory Point that preserve “its historic nature” and iconic limestone steps. Park District and Department of Transportation officials have said in recent weeks they’re “in complete agreement” with advocates on preserving the Point’s limestone.

The concrete design used on shoreline projects over the last quarter-century — which Hyde Parkers have overwhelmingly demanded not be used at the Point — “is no longer relevant,” transportation Deputy Commissioner Dan Burke said.

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