WIN: After 23 Year Advocacy Effort, Promontory Point Receives Chicago Landmark Designation (Chicago 7 2022)

Ward Miller Interview on WBEZ Chicago’s Reset regarding the Successful Effort to Landmark Promontory Point, Image credit: WBEZ Chicago 4/20/23 (13 minutes)
2nd Annual Point Day at the Point, May 27, 2023 from 9 to 3. More information at Promontory Point Conservancy webpage. Image credit: Promontory Point Conservancy

“Promontory Point, Hyde Park’s beloved lakefront park and home to the last stretch of limestone shoreline barriers in the city, is officially a Chicago landmark.

“Promontory Point, which runs from 54th to 56th streets on the lakefront, features limestone revetments which protect the shoreline from erosion, ‘council rings’ of native stone, a French Eclectic-style pavilion, the David Wallach Fountain, a section of the Lakefront Trail and a central meadow.

“The landmark designation protects the Point’s limestone revetments, Alfred Caldwell’s landscape design of a central meadow surrounded by ‘irregular groupings of plants and trees,’ the pathways, the council rings, the fountain and ‘all exterior elevations and roofline’ of the pavilion.

“Specific plants and trees to include on the property are excluded from the designation, in case new plants must be grown to ensure the park’s resilience ‘in the face of climate change,’ according to the ordinance.

“Landmark status will ensure ‘an extra step of oversight’ toward preserving the Point’s iconic limestone steps as city and federal agencies reinforce Chicago’s shoreline, supporters say. The beloved gathering space was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

“The designation passed unanimously during the last City Council meeting for retiring Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who has been a vocal advocate for preserving the Point’s limestone since the early 2000s.

“The Promontory Point Conservancy, a nonprofit that grew from the Save the Point campaign of the 2000s, requested in November that the commission consider a landmark designation.

“Supporters of the landmarking effort sent hundreds of letters to members of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks ahead of the park’s preliminary designation in January.

“Wednesday’s vote ‘makes me want to go out and celebrate,’ conservancy president Jack Spicer said. ‘This is a tremendous honor and a wonderment for the community.’

“For more than 20 years, advocates have demanded city and federal officials preserve Promontory Point’s limestone as they reinforce the lakefront through the Shoreline Protection Project.

The shoreline project is led by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Park District. Unlike the rest of Chicago’s lakefront, the Point’s limestone is still in place because the park hasn’t been renovated since the project was funded in 1996.

“Activists ‘hope for the best’ that city officials will stick to their word, Spicer said. He praised the landmark designation for creating “a shared preservation language” among everyone involved in the renovation process, which will be key to making upgrades everyone can be happy with, he said.

“The designation is far from the end for the Save the Point campaign, which is part of a wider South Side movement for park equity, Spicer said. Advocates will continue gathering community input on the Point, as well as on the futures of the South Shore Cultural Center, Jackson Park, the Midway Plaisance, Washington Park and others nearby, he said.

“There is a lot of pressure for all these parks to become commercialized and developed,’ Spicer said. ‘… We don’t want [the Park District] to be making money in the parks at the expense of the community.'” (Evans, Block Club Chicago, 4/19/23)

Preservation Chicago applauds the Promontory Point Conservancy for their dedicated advocacy effort to ‘Save the Point”. Preservation Chicago has been working closely with the Promontory Point Conservancy to request to the Chicago Commission on Landmarks to designate Promontory Point as a Designated Chicago Landmark. Promontory Point Conservancy is responsible for the extensive report by preservation consultant Julia Bachrach detailing the historical significance of the Point which clearly established the need for Chicago Landmark designation.

There has been strong support for saving the Point from elected officials including Alderman Leslie Hairston, Cook County Commissioner William Lowry, State Representative Curtis Tarver, State Senator Robert Peters, and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly. Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement for the restoration of Promontory Point. In addition to Preservation Chicago, other organizations in support include Hyde Park Historical Society, Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Friends of the Parks, Openlands Chicago, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

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