United States

Berger Park

Situated nine miles north of Chicago’s Loop, this 3.34-acre park is named for philanthropist Albert Berger, who advocated for the creation of parks and beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The park lies in Edgewater, which was a thriving agricultural community by the mid-1850s. John Cochran purchased property there in 1885 and developed a 350-acre suburb, which was annexed by the City of Chicago in 1889. Cochran established the suburb’s infrastructure, founded the Edgewater Light Company, and advocated for rail connections from Chicago. By the 1920s, Edgewater was a prestigious community with elite mansions lining its streets. In order to provide recreational opportunities for Edgewater residents, Chicago’s Bureau of Parks and Recreation constructed 27 beaches along the shore. One of these, at the end of Granville Avenue, was flanked by two mansions on Sheridan Street.

In the decades following World War II, many of Edgewater’s stately houses were demolished and replaced by residential high-rises. The two mansions near Granville Beach, however, were saved in 1945 when they were purchased by the Clerics of St. Viator for student housing. In 1965, the Chicago Park District acquired an adjacent parcel and constructed a playground. In 1981, the Clerics sold their three-acre property to the Park District, stipulating that it be maintained for community use. The mansions were restored and opened to the public as community centers in 1988. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a 450-foot-long stone embankment to stabilize the shoreline while the Park District designed the landscape in-house, including an 8,000-square-foot playground. Berger Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

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