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The South Park Commission selected the nationally renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.
to design its park system, now known as Washington Park, Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance. architects and Olmsted Brothers landscape architects to pioneer new neighborhood parks that offered recreational opportunities as well as social and educational programs.
In the 1830s, Chicago's emerging government adopted the motto "Urbs in horto," a Latin phrase meaning "City in a Garden." The slogan proved to be prophetic.
For nearly two centuries, Chicago's citizens have rallied for the creation and protection of parkland, and many of the city's parks have served as testing grounds for important ideas and social movements.
Although the three park commissions operated independently, the overall goal was to create a unified ribbon of green that would encircle Chicago.
The three agencies each commissioned their own designers to create pleasure grounds and interlinking boulevards that could be enjoyed by the whole city.
The earliest parks were created in Chicago between the 1830s and 1860s.
Grant Park began as a strip of green space along Lake Michigan known as Lake Park. John Rauch, led a successful campaign to set aside a 60-acre section of a public cemetery as parkland, marking the beginnings of Lincoln Park.
In order to create jobs, the newly established CPD hired architects, engineers and landscape architects to produce record plans and drawings that provide a detailed understanding of the park buildings and landscapes as they appeared in the 1930s.The Chicago Park District Records: Photographs include images created and acquired by the Chicago Park District and predecessor park commissions including Lincoln, South and West Chicago.While staff photographers produced the bulk of the images following the 1934 park commission consolidation, a significant number come from other sources.Photographs made and/or printed from the 1970s forward do not usually include source notes unless they are the result of construction projects or commissions.Notable among the latter are works created by photographers James Iska and Judith Bromley, both of whom documented parks in service of Julia Bachrach’s book, .
Since its formation, the Chicago Park District has continued its tradition of innovative programs and ideas and beautifully designed landscapes and facilities.