Jackson Park Gates

August 25, 2021: CPD Installs Gates

Press Coverage

Our Letter to the Park District

Dear Chicago Park District,

We are writing to ask that you immediately remove the gates recently installed on the north and south bridges to Wooded Island in Jackson Park, as described in the 8/25/21 Jackson Park Improvement Update (https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/about-us/news/jackson-park-improvement-update). Restricting access to Wooded Island will not improve community safety; in fact, public spaces are safer when more people are around. Closing off the island only further restricts the limited number of safe walking routes through the park, which is both directly counter to the purpose of the park and will actually decrease public safety in the area.

Sunrise and sunset are some of the most beautiful times to enjoy the park’s nature areas and to observe its wildlife. For decades, the Wooded Island has been a destination for birdwatchers (https://www.chicagoaudubon.org/new-events/2020/3/14/wooded-island-bird-walk), who often visit near dawn or dusk because those are the most active times for many birds. Additionally, many people walk in Wooded Island after dusk or before dawn because of work schedules. Locking the park at these times prevents people who work second and third shift from enjoying one of the island’s primary purposes.

As users of Jackson Park, we are deeply concerned about the Park District’s focus on and financial investment in restricting access to a popular location rather than making the park more enjoyable by repairing historic Clarence Darrow Memorial bridge, the two underpasses to the lakefront that are nearly always flooded, and several buildings in serious disrepair. The Park District needs to gather input from the broader local community, not just the small number of people who are able to attend monthly Jackson Park Advisory Council meetings, to understand how we use the park, what public safety issues are most pressing to us, and how we believe they should be addressed.

We love Jackson Park, the Wooded Island, and the Japanese Garden, and many of us spend time there every day. Please remove the gates so we can continue enjoying one of Chicago's most beloved public spaces.