How Friends of the Parks Got Started

Friends of the Parks was formed in 1975 as a response to a Chicago Park District administration which ran our park system as a political patronage army and not for the benefit of Chicagoans and taxpayers. Tax dollars were squandered; parks were in shambles; and there was no stewardship by the primary government agency entrusted with their protection. Evidence of the problems included poor landscape maintenance and horticultural practices; poorly attended recreational programs; parks isolated from the communities they served, inequitable distribution of tax dollars; and patronage that at times paralyzed the functioning of local parks.

Friends of the Parks undertook studies of existing conditions of parks and recreation programs. Based on site surveys, report cards were produced which year after year showed failing grades by the political operatives that ran the Park District.

The breakthrough to reform of the Park District came in 1986, when Mayor Harold Washington wrested control of the Park District from a political appointee, Edmund Kelly, and appointed world renowned architect, Walter Netsch, to serve as the President of the Park District Board.  Under Walter Netsch major reform was implemented at the Chicago Park District.

Timeline of Significant Events

children planting

1975 – In an article entitled “A Slow Death for the Parks,” writer Jory Graham shares her desire for a Chicago group to watch over the parks.  Lois Weisberg and Vicky Ranney respond by forming Friends of the Parks.

On November 9, Friends of the Parks sponsors a clean-up of Jackson Park.  Skin divers cleaning the lagoon find, among other items, a telephone booth filled with coins dating the booth’s sinking back to 1968.

1976 – Friends of the Parks and Chicago’s American Youth Hostel co-host Chicago’s first free cross-country ski clinic, with more than 1,000 participants.  Skiing had been illegal until Friends of the Parks got involved.

Friends of the Parks sponsors the first Lincoln Park Monument Fair featuring live theater, music, dance and poetry readings around eleven Lincoln Park statues.

1977 – Working with Chicago running groups, Friends of the Parks co-sponsors Chicago’s first marathon (now the LaSalle Bank’s Chicago Marathon) along the lakefront.  More than 5,000 runners participate.

Friends of the Parks co-sponsors Chicago’s first free Shakespeare Festival, transforming Daley Plaza and the South Shore Country Club into outdoor theaters for two weeks.

More than 9,000 jazz lovers attend our first Duke Ellington Jazz Fest in Grant Park.  (This event turned into the annual Chicago Jazz Fest, sponsored by the City of Chicago.)

The Lincoln Statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens amid a shining sea of cars?  The Park District proposes converting the closed-off portion of North Dearborn Parkway, between LaSalle and North Avenue, into a parking lot.  Faced with opposition by Friends of the Parks and residents, the District rescinds its proposal.

1978 – The Park District withdraws its proposal to demolish the South Shore Country Club (now South Shore Cultural Center Park) due to opposition from the community and Friends of the Parks.  District officials agree to apply for state and federal funds to rehabilitate the facility and expand programs.

Friends of the Parks co-sponsors Chicago’s first major running race for women.

1979 – Friends of the Parks supports the effort to resurface, measure and mark the 18-mile Chicago Lakefront running/bicycle path from Hollywood Avenue on the north to 71st Street on the south.

1980 – Friends of the Parks completes report on the problem of poor and limited quality concessions in Chicago’s parks.

After 25 years of a no-bid process, Friends of the Parks convinces the Park District to open the bidding process for park concessions and encourage quality restaurants to participate.

Friends of the Parks initiates development of local park advisory councils to involve the public in spending federal dollars under Urban Park and Recreation Recovery program.

children with water fountain

1981 – With a $50,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Friends of the Parks commissions Ellsworth Kelly’s sculpture in Lincoln Park, the first new park statuary in 26 years.

Friends of the Parks hosts a seminar entitled “Reclaiming Your Neighborhood Park: Strategies for Involvement.”

Friends of the Parks helps to establish 55 park advisory councils in Chicago neighborhoods.

1982 On November 30, the U.S. Attorney files suit against the Chicago Park District General Superintendent, Edmund Kelly, and the Park Board of Commissioners, for discriminating against residents of Chicago’s African-American and Hispanic communities.

At the annual Park District budget hearing, Friends of the Parks presents findings from a year-long study of the nation’s park budgets.  Friends of the Parks stresses the need for data necessary to ensure that citizens all over the city receive an equitable share of park services.

1983 – On May 11, the Park District and U.S. Justice Department stipulate that at least 65% of Park District capital improvement dollars in the next six years should be spent in minority communities.  Friends of the Parks becomes part of the Consent Decree Task Force.

Mayoral candidate Harold Washington endorses Friends of the Parks’ “Agenda of the 80s” report, saying “We must exorcise totally [the Chicago Park District’s] patronage system from the city.”

1984 – Friends of the Parks’ first Lincoln Park Alive! Festival of dance, music and theater takes place in Lincoln Park.

Friends of the Parks helps to form another twenty park advisory councils.

1985 – Armed with 100,000 trash bags, hundreds of volunteers pick up litter, sweep glass and remove debris from their neighborhood parks during a clean-up sponsored by Friends of the Parks.

With full support by Friends of the Parks, Alderman Marian Vollini introduces legislation in City Council requiring soft surfaces in all children’s playgrounds in Chicago parks.

chidlren cleanup

1986 – Friends of the Parks saves 20 acres of parkland along the lakefront from proposed private development, including a maritime museum on two acres on Randolph Street, a central library on ten acres in Grant Park, and the DuSable Fort Dearborn Trading Post on eight acres south of McCormick Place.

Friends of the Parks releases results from its eight-week study of food and restaurant concessions in Chicago parks. We form two concession review panels to work directly with concession contractors and formulate the request for proposals for a restaurant in Lincoln Park’s Café Brauer.

1987 – Friends of the Parks receives the 1987 Beatrice Foundation Award for Excellence for superior skills in management, marketing, strategic planning and financial analysis, and for maximizing the return on investment of its grants.

Friends of the Parks sues the city over its proposal to use expressway standards when designing entrance ramps on Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton and Belmont Avenues.  Judge Marvin Aspen grants a restraining order and the city modifies ramp expansions, saving parkland and $1.06 million in tax dollars.

Friends of the Parks helps convince the Park District to decentralize its administrative system.

The Park District Board of Commissioners adopts a Playground Restoration Program recommended by Friends of the Parks.  All 500 children’s playgrounds are earmarked for safe soft surfaces and redesign.

1988 – Friends of the Parks’ annual budget analysis calls on the Park District to rescind a proposed property tax hike. The Park District withdraws its proposal, saving $4 million in new property taxes.

Friends of the Parks advocates closing the Gun Club because of environmental harm to Lake Michigan.  The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency cites the Park District for a violation of state regulations by the Lincoln Park Gun Club.

Friends of the Parks begins a first-time comprehensive study of children’s playgrounds in Chicago.  The Park District uses the 500-page report to develop a priority schedule for playground restoration work.

Friends of the Parks opposes the deeding of 20 acres of Lake Michigan bottom to Loyola University.  Courts uphold the Public Trust Doctrine of public ownership of lakefront parks and the project dies.

1989 – Friends of the Parks new VIP (Volunteers in Parks) program introduces over 1,000 volunteers to park clean-ups citywide.  We create a neighborhood park clean-up program uniting Chicago businesses with local park advisory councils to clean and enhance local parks.  We recruit nature guides to lead our pilot children’s environmental education program and train docents to lead historic park tours.

Friends of the Parks publishes a survey of outdoor parks.  Advisory councils, community groups and Park District officials use the 200-page report to improve conditions.

Friends of the Parks works with neighborhood groups to save three acres of Nichols Park in Hyde Park from development.  We help save two acres of park downtown at Congress and Wells from parking lot development.  We also secure a land acquisition study for the North Kenwood community.

Friends of the Parks’ parkART program promotes creative use of space in park facilities through workshops, performances, exhibits, art and theater by local artists.

Friends of the Parks hosts its first 25-mile, after midnight bicycle ride, attracting 350 participants.  Still an annual event, the ride has since grown to 9,000 cyclists.

1990 – The Illinois state legislature approves more than $100 million to relocate the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive, remove the old roadbed to create parkland, landscape the new roadway, and build new overpasses to the lakefront.  Friends of the Parks and a coalition of lakefront advocates work to obtain a guarantee from Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority to fund the park development portion of the plan.

Friends of the Parks helps prevent development of a parking lot on the Headlands of Navy Pier.

Friends of the Parks’ analysis of park programs prompts the District to issue goals for improvement.

Volunteers log more than 5,000 hours participating in Friends of the Parks’ park clean-ups, children’s nature and education program, and historic park tours.

Friends of the Parks spearheads “Seniors in Parks” to improve park programming for seniors.

On Earth Day 1990 Friends of the Parks leads a citywide clean-up in which over 1,500 community residents in more than 70 parks plant three hundred trees, remove debris and beautify landscapes.  We continue our annual Earth Day Clean-Up today.


1991 – As Friends of the Parks has advocated for three years, the Chicago Park District terminates the Lincoln Park Gun Club’s lease agreement because of state and federal environmental ordinance violations.

Friends of the Parks sponsors Chicago’s Great Lakes Beach Sweep, cleaning up local beaches.

Friends of the Parks helps launch Kaleidoscope Kids, the first after-school program for grade school kids at two west side parks.

Friends of the Parks starts a Lakefront Protection Program and works to convince the federal government to fund lakefront rehabilitation.

Friends of the Parks works with the Illinois Department of Transportation to design and develop new planted median dividers for North Lake Shore Drive.

Friends of the Parks introduces more than 3,000 Chicago public school students and day-camp participants to park stewardship and environmental protection through classroom instruction and activities.

1992  Friends of the Parks successfully advocates for planted median dividers (not metal guardrails) on North Lake Shore Drive, featuring 950 trees, 7,500 shrubs, and 171,000 groundcover and perennial plants.

Friends of the Parks successfully advocates for a new public entrance to the original McCormick Place East building accessible to the public from the lakefront path.  As a result the public also gains access to the lakefront through the convention complex from Martin Luther King Drive at 23rd Street.

Friends of the Parks leads a Task Force of Mayor Daley’s Bike Advisory Committee, and produces the Bike 2000 plan which recommends installing thousands of bicycle racks, adapting 300 miles of Chicago streets to accommodate bicycles, and designating bike paths with signs or striped lines on the pavement.

Friends of the Parks opposes river boat floating casinos and land-based casinos on Chicago’s lakefront.

1993 – Friends of the Parks raises funds to restore a section of Grant Park between Randolph and Monroe Streets and petitions the Park District to name it the A. Montgomery Ward Gardens for the man who, from 1890-1913, fought to keep Grant Park “forever open, clear and free.”

The Park District’s new general superintendent Forrest Claypool promises “radical” changes.

Friends of the Parks begins advocating for the conversion of 100 acres of Northerly Island (then Meigs Field) and 100 to 200 acres of the former U.S. Steel South Works steel plant to public park space.

Friends of the Parks and a coalition of lakefront advocates help draft and gain approval of an ordinance guaranteeing at least $16.7 million for removal of the old northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive from 23rd Street to Roosevelt Road, development of parkland on the old roadbed, and landscaping of the new Drive.

Friends of the Parks expands its Kaleidoscope Kids after-school program to nine park fieldhouses.

Friends of the Parks completes a two-year study to identify recreational needs.  Recommendations include new program initiatives, staff changes, improved program marketing and solicitation of community input.

1994 – Friends of the Parks’ 50-page report entitled “A Preliminary Agenda for Recreation Programming in Chicago’s Parks” documents a severe lack of park programs for children, teens, women and senior citizens.

The long-neglected Garfield Park Conservatory loses 80 percent of its tropical plants in January.

Friends of the Parks gives the Park District high marks for restructuring into six regions; reducing staff; and privatizing harbors, equipment operations, parking facilities and Soldier Field.

1995 – Friends of the Parks co-hosts a North Pond Wildlife Preserve symposium.  With the community, we establish the North Pond Wildlife Preserve Task Force that oversees restoration of North Pond.

Friends of the Parks helps save four acres of parkland in Warren Park (6621 N. Western Avenue) as the Public Building Commission scraps its plan to build a new school in the community’s most-used park.

The City of Osaka, Japan donates $250,000 for improvements to Jackson Park’s Osaka Garden.  Friends of the Parks initiates a collaboration to develop a maintenance and programming plan for the garden.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago withdraws its proposal to build a $6 million facility in Kosciuszko Park (2732 N. Avers) when Friends of the Parks and community groups object.

Friends of the Parks supports the Museum of Science and Industry’s plan to remove its surface parking lot and construct a $43.7 million, 1,500-car underground parking garage.

Friends of the Parks receives a $1.46 million matching grant from the New York-based Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund to establish the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, a four-year public/private partnership to develop programs and visitor services at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

The Park District acknowledges the success of our Kaleidoscope Kids after-school program by adopting it under a new name Park Kids and expanding it to 38 park sites.

Friends of the Parks plays a leading role in developing park designs for 100-acre Northerly Island, anticipating the late 1996 expiration of Meigs Field’s lease.

Friends of the Parks helps secure a 2.9 acre expansion of Richard Clark Park on the Northwest Side.


1996 – The Chicago Lakefront Coalition’s report “People’s Case for Northerly Island Park” argues that Northerly Island would provide greater public benefit as a park than as an airfield.  Friends of the Parks provides leadership in developing the report, organizing neighborhood involvement and pursuing the subsequent legal challenge.

Friends of the Parks and the Grandparents Park Advisory Council prevent the taking of three park acres for a parking garage.

1997 – The state and city agree to allow the use of Northerly Island as an airport until 2002.

Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance programs, developed with Friends of the Parks and the Park District, include after-school science education, summer camp, a horticulture therapy program, bi-monthly adult gardening classes, and the Flower Cart Café.

Friends of the Parks’ analysis reveals that Chicago still places 18th out of the top U.S. cities in its amount of open space per capita, with over half that space concentrated on the lakefront.

Friends of the Parks sponsors a volunteer stewardship program for high school students at Columbus Park on Chicago’s West Side.

At Dvorak Park in Pilsen, Friends of the Parks begins advocating acquisition of a two-acre parcel of land south of the existing four-acre park.  The Park District acquires the land in 1999.

At Rainbow Beach Park (76th Street and the lakefront), Friends of the Parks successfully works with community residents to add land owned by the Chicago Water Department to the park.

In South Chicago Friends of the Parks works with local officials, the staff of CitySpace and residents to acquire 20 acres of land for park development.

In the Edgebrook neighborhood Friends of the Parks successfully works with local officials and neighbors to save three acres of Edgebrook Park by proposing an alternative location for a new library.

1998 – Our establishment of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance helps prompt the Park District’s restoration of the Conservatory.  Attendance jumps from 3,000 visitors in 1994 to 150,000 visitors in 1998.

Friends of the Parks works with the city’s CitySpace program, Board of Education, Park District and local groups to add 25 new parks each year for four years (1998-2001).

1999 – Construction begins on the 16-acre Millennium Park above the Illinois Central Railroad tracks in Grant Park.  Friends of the Parks, Openlands Project, Metropolitan Planning Council and other civic groups had proposed such a project since 1976.

The Park District restores the 63rd Street Beach House, a project Friends of the Parks advocated since 1990.

The Park District also completes a new North Avenue Beach House and Rainbow Beach House.

City of Chicago officials set aside 123 acres of the former USX site at 79th Street and Lake Michigan, including all of the lakefront acreage, for a future park.

Friends of the Parks persuades architects to place the Music and Dance Theater in Millennium Park below ground.

Friends of the Parks persuades the Chicago Park District to retain 17 small-scale parcels of land rather than sell them.

Friends of the Parks successfully opposes state legislation that would have eliminated legal protection of parks.

Friends of the Parks influences a new Busway Ordinance to include landscaping, public access to Grant Park and Burnham Parks, and the promotion of non-diesel fuels.

In August, Friends of the Parks contributes $95,000 to the City of Chicago to replant 400 trees in Ravenswood lost to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle.

2000 – Through our new Build-a-Park pilot program, Friends of the Parks works with the Chicago Park District and community groups to design new parks on land owned by the Park District.

Through our new Seed Grant program, Friends of the Parks approves six small grants to park advisory councils and Adopt-a-Park groups.

Friends of the Parks unveils a plan to restore Soldier Field to its original 1924 design and public uses, returning 50 acres of asphalt parking lots to public parkland.

Friends of the Parks supports construction of DuSable Harbor between Randolph Street and the Chicago River, but call for relocating the DuSable Harbor boating facility.

Friends of the Parks works to prevent a parking lot on the undeveloped three-acre DuSable Park and calls for constructing DuSable Park.

Friends of the Parks participates in several south lakefront planning efforts, including the Chicago Shoreline Revetment repair project.

Friends of the Parks co-hosts a workshop to promote use of clean fuels in buses through Grant Park.

Friends of the Parks co-hosts a workshop titled “Promoting Chicago’s Lakefront as Bird Habitat.”

Friends of the Parks co-hosts an Earth Day Educational Fair in Garfield Park for over 2,000 participants.

Friends of the Parks recommends naming of Lincoln Park’s historic Lily Pool after Alfred Caldwell, one of Chicago’s most important landscape architects.

Digital Camera

2001 – In two lawsuits, Friends of the Parks challenges the Chicago Bears’ stadium proposal as a violation of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, the Public Trust Doctrine, and the Illinois Constitution.

Friends of the Parks and the North of Howard Community Organization protects Triangle Park from development by finding an alternative location for a parking lot.

The Garfield Parks Conservatory revival, established by Friends of the Parks, continues.  The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance contributes $4 million in programming and the Park District contributes $8 million in capital improvements.  The CTA opens a $7 million “L” stop by the conservatory.  And in the fall, an enormous display of Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork graces the conservatory gardens.

Friends of the Parks works with the Humboldt Park community to design and fund Artesian Park.

In the Edgebrook community, Friends of the Parks works with the Park District to improve and dedicate the Jeffrey S. Green Park, renamed in memory of a former president of Friends of the Parks.

Friends of the Parks partners with Friends of the Forest Preserves on a two-year study of the operations of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Friends of the Parks establishes the DuSable Coalition to work with the U.S. E.P.A. to force the responsible parties to clean the 3.2-acre future DuSable Park of thorium.

2002 – Friends of the Parks co-authors a study of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County which recommends that the District develop active and independent staff, focus on its core mission of restoring natural lands, provide opportunities for public participation, and acquire 7,000 acres of additional land in 2003.

Friends of the Parks challenges the plan to rebuild Soldier Field to benefit the Chicago Bears in the Illinois Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, our challenge fails.

Friends of the Parks helps a coalition of 17 organizations push for the long-delayed development of DuSable Park.

Friends of the Parks works with the North of Howard Community Association and local officials to ensure that the Park District acquires and rebuilds Harold Washington Playlot.

Friends of the Parks works with Alderman Mary Ann Smith and the Edgewater Community to save lakefront property on the North Side from a high-rise development.

Friends of the Parks sponsors a program called “Nature is a Classroom,” which brings twenty classes from eight schools to Montrose Harbor to learn in an outdoor setting.

2003 – Friends of the Parks releases the second phase of a study of the Forest Preserve District, which helped prompt substantial changes.  A new general superintendent was hired and several departments restructured.

Friends of the Parks persuades the Park District to acquire a new park in Rogers Park and a three-acre site in Cottage Grove Heights.

Friends of the Parks successfully opposes a plan to build a 1,500-foot pier and 900 permanent boating slips in Monroe Harbor.

Friends of the Parks supports developing parks with access points and recreational amenities along the entire Chicago River.

2004 – Friends of the Parks and its allies Friends of Monroe Harbor, Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, and local residents and community groups scored a major victory in 2004 when the Chicago Park District backed off plans to construct a $30 million Monroe Harbor marina.

Friends of the Parks worked with 123 other conservation organizations to help restore $30 million for open space and natural areas to Illinois’ 2005 budget.

Friends of the Parks advocates for the acquisition of 1,000 acres of new Forest Preserve land in Cook County.

Friends of the Parks completes safety inspections at thirty children’s playgrounds.

Friends of the Parks serves as fiscal agent for six park advisory councils seeking to raise funds for new playgrounds.

Millennium Park opens in July.  This was a project first proposed by Friends of the Parks as the “Lakefront Gardens” back in the late 1970’s

Friends of the Parks holds 1st Annual Fall Frolic bike tour of the forest preserves.

2005 – Friends of the Parks celebrates its 30th anniversary of preserving, protecting and improving Chicago’s parks.

City Council approves Friends of the Parks proposal to name north side of downtown river walk The DuSable Founders Trail.

Friends of the Parks launches monthly “Creative Living in the City” lecture series at Chicago Cultural Center.

Friends of the Parks dedicates bust of A. Montgomery Ward in Grant Park.  Alderman Ed Burke is the speaker.

Friends of the Parks dedicates “Thirty Playgrounds for Thirty Years,” targeting 30 playgrounds for woodchip replacement.

Friends of the Parks has over 90 park sites and 20 forest preserve sites for Earth Day Clean Ups.

Friends of the Parks honors Cindy Pritzker for her work on Millennium Park.

Friends of the Parks partners with Ground Up Theatre to stage free performances of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in six parks.

Friends of the Parks hosts symposium on lakefront and harbors.

A new Land Policy ordinance, written by Friends of the Parks, is adopted unanimously by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.  This will make land swaps or sales much more difficult, and preserve these precious acres from development.


2006 – Friends of the Parks presents 1st Leon Despres Lifetime Commitment to Parks Award to 98 year old Friends of the Parks Board member Leon Despres.  Our highest annual individual award will forever bear his name

Friends of the Parks adopts “Principles of Navy Pier”

New Friends of the Parks billboard is erected on expressway to promote membership and volunteerism

Friends of the Parks honors philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus at our Parks Ball, and plants 3 trees in Lincoln Park.

Friends of the Parks secures state Conservation Easement for 22 acres of land on Chicago’s northwest side – the Dunning-Read Conservation area.

Friends of the Parks has more than 3,000 volunteers out at 125 sites for Earth Day.

Friends of the Parks’ Jr. Board launches 1st Annual “Friends Fore Parks” Golf outing.

Friends of the Parks teams up with After School Matters to expand our Environmental Education program to include high school students in our “Earth Team” program.

Friends of the Parks comes out against a proposed stadium in Washington Park for the proposed 2016 Olympics

2007 – Friends of the Parks launches new “Last 4 Miles of Lakefront” initiative, by holding design charrettes with citizen involvement on Chicago’s South Side.

Friends of the Parks derides Cook County Government for “raiding” Forest Preserve surplus of $13,000,000.

Inter-governmental agreement secured to preserve land along the I-294 corridor.

Friends of the Parks expands Nature Along the Lake Environmental Education program to a second site at the South Shore Cultural Center

Friends of the Parks receives grant from Richard H. Driehaus Foundation to expand our “Seed Grant” program to $15,000.  20 community groups or park advisory councils benefit.

Friends of the Parks publishes “Ten City Escapes” a guide to taking public transportation to the Cook County Forest Preserves.

Friends of the Parks advocates against Children’s Museum in Grant Park

Latin School soccer field in Lincoln Park is fought in court by partner group Protect Our Parks.

2008 – Friends of the Parks awards a record 23 Seed Grants totaling $15,000.

Friends of the Parks helps Leon Despres celebrate his 100th Birthday by having his birthday declared Leon Despres Day in Illinois

Friends of the Parks expands Service Learning initiative with Chicago Public Schools.

Friends of the Parks hosts 1st “Forest Preserves or Bust” bus tour

Friends of the Parks launches Trees program, planting more than 50 trees in Chicago’s parks.

Friends of the Parks hosts more than 40 Community Service days with many corporations including Bank of America, Deloitte, Pepsi, Starcom and Unilever.

Playground Safety Study inspects all 517 playgrounds in Chicago.

2009 – Friends of the Parks partners with the city of Chicago in the Chicago Tree Initiative with a goal to plant thousands of trees in Chicago to increase the city’s tree canopy.

2010 – Friends of the Parks partners with the River North community and the city of Chicago to dedicate a river-edge park at Erie Street to memorialize lakefront champion A. Montgomery Ward for his substantial impact on the city.


2011 – Friends of the Parks works to protect over 68,000 acres of forest preserves in Cook County. Friends of the Parks participated on the transition committee for incoming President, Toni Preckwinkle, helping to steer a new direction for the Forest Preserve District.

2012 – The inaugural Walter Netsch Lecture series launches with a significant bequest from the estate of Dawn Clark Netsch.

2013 – Friends of the Parks partners with the state and Chicago Park District to begin to implement the Illinois Clean Harbors program.

2014 – Friends of the Parks continues to advocate to keep Chicago’s lakefront open, clear and free by legally opposing the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts on public trust land.

2015 Friends of the Parks celebrates 40 year of preserving, protecting, promoting and improving Chicago parks!

2016 – Friends of the Parks wins our lawsuit and keeps Chicago’s precious lakefront “open, clear, and free”!

2017 – Friends of the Parks hosts one of its largest Earth Day Parks and Preserves Clean-Ups yet, with over 5000 volunteers in 135 parks and green spaces.