175 Days to Love Chicago: Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park

Discover one of Chicago’s hidden gems, the idyllic Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, our 175 Days to Love Chicago pick for Monday, June 18.

An officially designated National Historic Landmark, this “hidden garden” in Lincoln Park was designed by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell (1902- 1998) in the prairie style. Inspired by his mentor Jens Jensen and the work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Caldwell poetically interpreted the Midwestern landscape through the use of native plants, stratified stonework, and a natural-looking “prairie river,” with a waterfall that symbolizes its source. Completed in 1938, the site’s design also included a pavilion, council ring, and entrance gate.

In 2001, the Chicago Park District partnered with Friends of Lincoln Park (now the Lincoln Park Conservancy) to restore Caldwell’s vision for the landscape as a natural sanctuary for people and wildlife. Rehabilitation efforts included replacing non-native, invasive trees and shrubs with appropriate bird-friendly native varieties including thousands of prairie, woodland, and aquatic plants. The project also included the careful restoration of all of the site’s historic elements and the addition of accessible paths. The 2.5 acre pool and garden now sits in the sunlight and supports a diverse array of plants and animals.

At the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, visitors will feel like they are walking through an open woodland, where native plants such as oak, hackberry, hawthorn and wildflowers thrive. The lily pool is great place for bird-watching. Over 200 species of birds have been documented at the site by members of the local audubon group. Also look for dragonflies, butterflies, frogs, and turtles. For a great way to experience the site, take a free tour with a docent. This interpretive program is offered by the Chicago Park Distrct in conjunction with the Lincoln Park Conservancy on weekends.

Visit the free admission Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, adjacent to Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago’s Lincoln Park at Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive. The Lily Pool is open daily April 21 through December 1, with docent tours on the hour and half-hour on Fridays (1-4pm), Saturdays (9am-Noon; 1-4pm), and Sundays (1-4pm) from May to October. Docent tours meet at Fullerton Gate. For more information on the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and on docent tours, visit the Chicago Park District’s website.

175 Days to Love Chicago celebrates Chicago’s 175th birthday with an exciting 175-day series of programs, promotions and fun history. Launching on the 175th anniversary of the city’s incorporation on March 4 and continuing through August 26, 2012, this cultural calendar offers visitors and residents exciting opportunities to explore Chicago every day. From special events to special packages at local hotels, the campaign showcases the breadth and vibrancy of Chicago’s cultural landscape. For more information, visit http://www.explorechicago.org/175days.


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