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It's part of the long-term transformation that began with the the eminent domain acquisition by the Chicago Park District of a 12-acre riverfront site south of 18th street that had held a Chicago and Western Indiana rail yard. Under the direction of Ernest Wong's Site Design Group the site became Ping Tom Memorial Park, named after the Chicago businessman and developer who hired Harry Weese to design the nearby Chinatown Square shopping center.
TIF money was used to build a retaining wall and natural features along the riverbank, and Phase 2 opened in 2011, the same year new mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the construction of four new boathouses along the river, including one at Ping Tom, part of an initiative to transform the park's status from neighborhood to regional.
Clark Park boathouse, designed by Studio/Gang, being constructed along the Chicago River north of Belmont, heading towards an August 3rd dedication. I'm still not quite sure why the Johnson and Lee boathouse didn't wind up on the much narrower site at Clark Park, and the larger Studio/Gang facility, which is to be home to rowing clubs and regattas, situated on the far wider river at Ping Tom. I'm sure they had their reasons.
Chicago Journal was the first built by the CPD in her more than 12 years with the agency.
The distinctive character of Ping Tom Park derives from the confluence of three strong facets of Chicago. First of course, as an extension of the city's increasingly vibrant Chinese-American community. Then the geography of the river. And lastly, the one most likely to be overlooked, or even seen as an impediment - the park's immersion within Chicago's historic industrial presence.
Amtrak) bridge, with its spectacular twin 195-foot-high towers and the tiny, bridge-tender house perched atop the central span. (Control facilities were moved to a side structure long ago, but the grunge-dollhouse endures.)
18th Street bridge, city-designed, strikes a handsome, more contemporary note.
|18th Street Bridge House, Schoenhofen Brewery in background to right|
Va Pensiero. Between the obligatory press statement and heading out to meet Muti's boat, Mayor Rahm Emanuel could be found listening to the Civic Orchestra's brass players, looking a relaxed and happy man.
Studio/Gang's Clark Park Boathouse: A Century of Transformation flowing down Chicago's River