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Indian Boundary Park Asking For Memories, Photos For Centennial Celebration

By Linze Rice | November 14, 2016 6:00am
 Sulayman Mubashir, 4, balances Thursday on a log at the Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center.
Sulayman Mubashir, 4, balances Thursday on a log at the Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

WEST RIDGE — For more than 100 years, the land where Indian Boundary Park sits has been a site of historical significance as well as a beloved gathering place in the neighborhood. 

To celebrate the park's centennial, Leta Dally, president of the Indian Boundary Park Advisory Council, said her group is asking residents near and far to submit photos and written memories for a commemorative book that will later be sold.

"We'd like to have your memories," Dally said. "It's unlike any other park I've ever seen ... this park is beloved by a lot of people."

Dally said she is also working with the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society and Chicago Park District to collect memories and celebrate the park. Those who wish to can submit here by Nov. 30.

Oct. 23 marked the park's 100 year anniversary, Dally said, a fact that came as a surprise to her after believing 2015 had actually been the centennial year for the park. But Dally said though the park was under construction and planning in 1915, it didn't open to the public until 1916.

Today, it's a hub in the neighborhood where Dally said she takes great pride in seeing kids of a diverse range of nationalities and cultures playing together.

The park has always been dear among those who use it, Dally said, which is why she believes people from neighborhoods across the city and suburbs might have memories to share.

"It was the neighborhood who collected the money for the playground we have, so it's been a very active park among the community," she said. 

From 1816-33, the land that would become the park was along the Indian Boundary Line (today Rogers Avenue) — a barrier established by a treaty between the government and Pottawattomie tribe. In 1833, the Pottawattomies were driven from the land entirely, according to Hank Morris of the historical society. 

In 1912, land for the park began to be acquired for its development and in October 1916, the sprawling Indian Boundary Park opened, eventually growing to more than 13 acres.

Throughout its history, the park has gained trees and shrubbery among the playground equipment, nature center and walking trails, once housed a zoo and wading pool, included tennis courts and boasts a landmark cultural center where residents can take a number of recreational classes.

The neighboring Park Castle Condominiums buildings give an impressive view of the brick, castle-like exterior.

In May 2012, a fire in the field house caused significant damage, but the structure re-opened in 2013 as a renovated cultural center. That same year, the remaining animals left in the park's zoo were moved to Lincoln Park, effectively closing its animal exhibit, though ducks, geese and swans still cruise in the park's lagoon.

This summer, a piano was temporarily placed in the former bird rectory as part of the Pianos in the Parks program.

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