Originally named Lake Park, Grant Park was renamed to its present title in 1901 in honor of the 18th president of the United States, Ulysses Grant. The idea to put up the park started in 1836, even before Chicago?s designation as a city. The actual site where Grant Park now stands is actually a reclaimed area after debris from the Great Fire of 1871 filled part of the Michigan Lake bank where the park is currently found.
Grant Park?s layout was inspired by the geometric blueprints of the parks found in France. There can be some difficulty in navigating through the park which covers 121 hectares of land as it is divided and segmented by busy thoroughfares. Still, the park is a popular destination especially the area near the Michigan Lake where outdoor enthusiasts can jog, stroll or cycle.
Grant Park is also peppered with expansive lawns that play host to several events and celebrations. These include the much anticipated summer events such as the Chicago Film Festival for movie buffs and the Grant Park Music Festival for music enthusiasts. There are also several facilities made for the sports inclined such as tennis courts and basketball courts.
Perhaps one of the factors that make Grant Park standout is the abundance of magnificent architectural, sculptural and landscape masterpieces. The most famous of which is the Buckingham Fountain found in a prominent location in the park contracted by Kate Buckingham to pay tribute to her brother Clarence. The Buckingham Fountain is patterned after the Bassin de Latone found in Versailles garden in France. While it may be classical and archaic in appearance, the Buckingham Fountain transforms into a modern lights and sound installation.
Another famous attraction within Grant Park is a statue of a sitting Lincoln which was inaugurated in 1926. This is one of the five Lincoln sculptures found in Chicago and its designer is the same one who created the standing Lincoln statue found in Lincoln Park. The sculpture is planked by two classical Doric columns on both sides.
Aside from the Buckingham Fountain and the Lincoln Statue, there are also other monuments and fountains housed in Grant Park. There are the 5-meter high bronze statues of Indian warriors, the equestrian statue in honor of General John Logan, the most recent Rosenberg Fountain which resembles a Greek temple and other small fountains and modern structures scattered across the expanse of Grant Park.
The only building that was permitted to be erected within the grounds of Grant Park is the Chicago Art Institute which is the venue of one of the most popular museum in Chicago holding a comprehensive collection of art hailing from across the globe.
Grant Park has been the site for several historical events, the recent one being President Obama?s acceptance to run for the United States presidency.