In the late 1890s, a group of progressive Chicagoans were deeply concerned about the many problems caused by the city’s rapid industrial growth. Tens of thousands of families lived in filthy, overcrowded, tenement districts, while stretches of unspoiled woods and wetlands at the outskirts of the city were being developed with little forethought. Two visionaries, architect Dwight Heald Perkins and landscape architect Jens Jensen, devised a plan to preserve this vast network of scenic lands for current and future generations. After garnering the support of other civic leaders, the two spent more than 20 years of advocacy, political wrangling, and legal battles to establish the Cook County Forest Preserves. In this presentation, historian Julia Bachrach, will illuminate the inspiring story of the Perkins, Jensen, and the Cook County Forest Preserves.
Image: “Thatcher’s Big Woods,” From Report of the Special Park Commission to the City Council of Chicago on the Subject of a Metropolitan Park System, 1904.