“Celine Wysgalla remembers the first time she stepped foot into Crystal Gardens as a 5-year-old, her tiny body overshadowed by ancient trees that towered above her.
“For more than two decades, the indoor garden at Chicago’s Navy Pier has been a cherished escape from bustling city life, a reminder of the peace and quiet reflection that only comes with being immersed in nature. But the beloved tropical garden, which has always been free to the public, is set to be replaced with a new paid digital experience.
“Now a 25-year-old recent graduate of the University of Illinois Chicago, where she earned her master’s degree in environmental health, Wysgalla is leading an effort to save the one-acre indoor garden.
“‘The Gardens offer a chance to interact with nature and increase your appreciation for the natural world. There is nothing like the Crystal Gardens in Chicago, and it is one of very few free indoor green spaces available to the people of this community,’ Wysgalla told CNN.
“‘I know how precious green space is and how rare it is to have an indoor space like this in the city, so I would be devastated if the Crystal Gardens were torn down.’ Crystal Gardens is currently home to more than 80 soaring palm trees and enormous monstera plants, among other tropical greenery, all enclosed inside a six-story glass atrium scattered with dancing fountains.
“Wysgalla launched a petition on September 16 to save the garden. It has so far garnered more than 18,000 signatures. She also started an Instagram account, dedicated to saving the garden, where hundreds of people have left comments sharing their memories of Crystal Gardens and their hopes of protecting it.
“As the clock keeps ticking, edging closer and closer to the end of Crystal Gardens, Chicagoans who call the garden a sanctuary say they will fight for it until the end. (CNN and WTTW Chicago, 10/4/21)