Lincoln Park in Chicago is built, though many people don’t know this, on landfill. So was Lake Shore Drive, along the east side of which runs Lincoln Park’s eighteen miles of biking, walking, and roller-skating trails.
A hundred and thirty years ago, the lakeshore on the north side had already been built upon: skyscrapers of 20 and 30 storeys, fine apartment houses heated with steam with and ornamented with gorgeous glazed tile, and the occasional stately single-family home, when Daniel Burnham (“Make no small plans”) helped set aside this and thousands of acres of other public spaces for parks to be enjoyed by the public, many years ago.
The entire north side lakefront, which includes three yachting harbors and a sculling school, numerous random basketball courts, a zoo, elegant old restroom buildings made of brick and glazed tile, a golf course whose pro shop looks like a darling chapel and sometimes serves as one for weddings, vast installations of soccer fields and tennis courts, a bike rental shop, many delicious concession stands, a bird sanctuary, a kite hill, a shooting range (now defunct), a trapeze school, picnic areas galore, a famous volleyball tournament zone, a grand bike path for those hardy enough to brave the wind, a huge dog beach, multiple people beaches, a nature museum, a history museum, a giant glass confection of a conservatory, formal gardens, a summer theatre, an outdoor chess tournament facility, and a massive park district building shaped like an ocean liner, was created by Chicago from the rubble of the Chicago fire when Burnham saw that there was no lakefront left for the citizens to enjoy.
The tiny section of Lincoln Park pictured in these photos lies north of what we used to call Waveland Golf Course. This is a not-very sylvan bit of woods composed of weed trees and mud that runs along the lake side of the bike path. Usually it looks like an unloved dumping ground for broken lumber and auto tires. But wait, what’s that blue stuff on the ground back there?
Scylla was planted here so long ago that it has completely naturalized. If you’ve ever planted scylla in your own yard, you know how many years it takes to make a carpet of blue like this.
It’s like finding a chunk of abandoned parking lot that’s paved with gold, thanks to the energy and foresight of public gardeners many years ago.
Do you have scylla blooming in your yard right now? What else is finally showing color? Post a (small) picture below!