Parks and Playlots

Parks are where our community comes together. By spending the time and effort to invest in our parks, we let our neighbors know we all care about our well-being and safety.

– Ald. Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward

The Chicago Park District owns more than 8,800 acres of green space, making it the largest municipal park manager in the nation. In 1836, before the city was officially incorporated, early leaders labeled an area of the lakefront with the inscription: “Public Ground— A Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear, and Free of Any Building, or Other Obstruction Whatever.” Chicago officially became a city on May 4, 1837. Despite a lack of green space at that time, city leaders adopted the motto “Urbs in Horto,” a Latin phrase that means “City in a Garden.” Learn more about the history of Chicago’s parks.

40th Ward Green Spaces

From rich pond life teeming with frogs, herons, and dragonflies, to shrubby areas where migratory birds stop to rest, to lush prairies filled with native grasses and wildflowers. Our parks are some of the best in the city, featuring bike and walking paths, fountains, children’s playlots, programs and events offered by the Chicago Park District. The parks also conduct numerous monitoring and research projects throughout the year, some of which include public participation. Learn more about community science in the parks.

Fairy houses perched on a tree found in the West Ridge Nature Preserve

West Ridge Nature Park

West Ridge Nature Park is located along the northwestern edge of Rosehill Cemetery. The 21-acre park was developed into an amazing natural space filled with native plants, boardwalks, and a fishing area. A restored woodland, 4.5-acre pond, and multipurpose trail around the park offer an elevated overlook, wildlife viewing opportunities, nature play space, and more!

Gross Park playground area

Gross Park

Gross Park is 1.56 acres and it is located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. It features four basketball standards, a junior soccer field, and an ADA accessible soft surface playground. Offers soccer and basketball instructional programs, touch football, plus a soccer league for youth. Summer programs include a Play Camp for children.

Mather Park, Community artworks decorate the exterior fence

Mather Park

Mather Park is located in the West Ridge community and shares 14.83 acres with Mather High School where many of the Chicago Park District programs are held. Mather Park offers a great variety of sports including 16” softball, 12” slow pitch softball, basketball, flag football, volleyball, and indoor soccer. Outdoor amenities include baseball, softball , football and soccer fields, four basketball standards, five tennis courts, a playground, sandbox and four horseshoe pits. Meeting in the natatorium are the junior lifeguards, life guarding classes, swim team, open swim, and lap swim.

Schreiber Park community Garden

Schreiber Park

Located in Rogers Park (north of Devon Avenue and east of Clark Street), Schreiber Park offers weekday programming for various age groups. The 2.48-acre park continues to expand its open green space and contains a new ADA accessible soft-surface playground, an open space ideal for junior field sports, community garden and a basketball court.

The Tsukasa Taiko drummers performing for a Night Out in the Park!

Green Briar Park

Green Briar Park, located on West Peterson Avenue just east of California Avenue, serves West Ridge community residents with a number of athletic programs and unique recreational activities, ranging from various music classes to jewelry making. The historic fieldhouse features a gymnasium on the first floor and an auditorium on the second floor, which is available for rental for private events and parties. As part of its after-school Park Kids program, Green Briar Park is 4.03 acres and it offers homework time coupled with recreational activities aimed at physical fitness and health. Outdoors, Green Briar Park features two basketball standards, two junior baseball fields, a tennis court, volleyball court, playground and spray pool. Summer day camps are also offered.

Soccer game on a green field in River Park

River Park

Located at the convergence of the Chicago River and canal, River Park is 28.81 acres that offers a rich wildlife habitat, excellent fishing and a canoe launch. Amenities include a swimming pool and an interactive water playground in summer months, artificial turf soccer field and running track, as well as a soft-surface playground. The park also features seven tennis courts and two baseball fields. Programs for all ages including a strong Park Kids after-school program.

River Park Boathouse, located west of the river is home to the Chicago RiverLab, and the Chicago Park District’s family paddling programs.

Winnemac Park playground

Winnemac Park

Winnemac Park, part of the school-park campus program, encompasses 22.38 acres, including land owned by both the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park District. Bounded by Damen, Foster, Leavitt and Argyle, Winnemac Park offers programming and program registration in Amundsen High School, Chappell Elementary School and Winnemac Stadium. This park features an accessible playground for the community, a scenic prairie garden and nature trail, three softball fields, a soccer field and new walkways. Youth programs include seasonal sports. Swimming programs associated with Winnemac Park are held within Amundsen High School’s pool.

A big concrete fountain in the midst of lush green area at Legion Park.

Legion Park

This 51.66-acre park crosses three neighborhoods: West Ridge, Lincoln Square, and North Park. Features include two junior baseball fields, two playslabs with basketball standards, two tennis courts, four playgrounds, a roller hockey area, a nature area, and a bicycle path. The park’s northern border starts at Peterson Avenue, the southern border ends at Foster Avenue, and its west side abuts Kedzie / Jersey Avenues. If you are interested in renting one of the athletic fields or other amenities, please contact River Park. There is no structured programming taking place at this location.

A small playlot with trees and a nearby fieldhouse at Emmerson Park

Emmerson Park

Located in the West Ridge community (at the corner of Granville and Ridge Avenues), this 2.60 acre park contains a small fieldhouse with a kitchen, a playground with sandbox and spray pool, two tennis courts and two basketball standards. Seasonal program include Park Kids after school program and sports programs for youth in the fall and a day camp during summer. Additionally, Emmerson Park serves as host to the neighborhood’s bi-monthly CAPS meetings.

Jacob's Playlot at 4674 N Virginia Ave in Chicago

Jacob’s Playlot

Located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood (two blocks south of Lawrence Avenue, and seven blocks west of Lincoln Avenue), Jacob Park is 0.89 acres and it features a playground with slides and swings, and a sandbox. There is no structured programming at this location.

A soft surface playground at Mellin Park

Mellin Park

Located in the Edgewater neighborhood (at the intersection of Ashland and Bryn Mawr avenues) this small park is 0.28 acres and it features a new soft surface playground. There is no structured programming taking place at this location.

A bright orange slide and jungle gym at Korczak Playground.

Korczak Playlot

This tiny playground is 0.28 acres and it is located in the West Ridge community (one block east of Western Avenue, 1 ½ blocks north of Peterson Avenue). The park district is working with local mosaic artist Cynthia Weiss to develop a commemorative gate for Korczak Park. There is no structured programming taking place at this location.

Chicago Park District Permits

The Chicago Park District offers numerous indoor and outdoor spaces to host your next athletic event, picnic, festival, film or photo session, or private event. Permits may be required for events, find out more about event rentals and permits at Chicago parks.

Alder Andre Vasquez and a group of 40th Ward community members smile in a sunny park.

Pitching in for Parks wants YOU

The Chicago Parks Foundation has a variety of ways for you to get involved in park clean-ups. The citywide Pitch In for the Parks volunteer effort equips volunteer with the supplies and support you need to make an impact across our city’s 600+ parks!

Read about the 40th Ward Green Team clean up at Andersonville Playlot, Emmerson Park, Green Briar Park, Mather Park, and Schreiber Park in 2021. Learn more about how you can participate.