Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden
You may have heard about the (former) cemetery near the Chicago History Museum and that most of the lakeshore of Chicago is the result of post 1871 landfill. Both of these factors are key to Lincoln Park’s (the park, not the neighborhood) enduring landscape and beauty that encompasses six miles from North Avenue to Hollywood/Edgewater Beach.
The origins of the Chicago’s largest park can be credited with a doctor, who back in 1830s, campaigned-successfully-to set aside 60 acres of public cemetery parkland. Then formation of the nation’s FIRST park and boulevard system spurred the adoption of three separate park commissions, (Lincoln, West and South) all legislated funded. These three but separate entities acted unilaterally to create a ‘ribbon of green’ that encircled the city. PS: Chicago Park District was formed in 1934.
Our Reserve of Leisure Activities
Every Chicagoan and visitor, especially in the summer, knows why we love our city so much… the LAKEFRONT! Historically, it was a means to escape from the industrial and heavily polluted city core; a major concern at the turn of the century. Accessible mostly to Middle class and upper class families due to expense of hiring a horse carriage. Michigan Avenue Bridge opened in 1918 and public transit north of the main branch of Chicago River didn’t exist.
Leisure time in the park also contributed to the development of neighborhoods, particularly out of need following the Great Fire of 1871.
Most of Lincoln Park Zoo and Garden architecture was constructed in the last 19th and early 20th centuries. Interesting differences between the park projects and the emerging ‘skyscrapers’ in the city’s central area.
During my ArchiSketch workshop, we’ll visit several Prairie style buildings that are worthy of several pages in your sketchbook.
Carlson Cottage (1888) is a quaint representation of the popularity of the Park at the turn of the twentieth century. Designed by Joseph Silsbee, who would design other buildings in the Park and Zoo, this fieldstone cottage is a reminder of the city’s past and ambition.
This is an early reference to Arts & Crafts style, which originated in England in the late nineteenth century, with its organic appeal and direct link to “urbs in horto” (Chicago’s motto: City in Garden.) The cottage appears as though it emerged from the earth, nestled next between the two ponds. Yet, this small intimate women’s lounge seems unproportional when you step back; the fieldstones, the large corbels and low-hanging hip roof. An artistic conundrum.
Take a few steps and there it sits, hugging the curvature of North Pond… Cafe Brauer (1908). Arts & Crafts movement wasn’t fully embraced in the U.S. It quickly became Prairie Style–the midwestern style popular during at this time and closely identified with Frank Lloyd Wright. Cafe Brauer, designed by Dwight H. Perkins, who also designed the Kovler Lion House. Cafe Brauer, fka South Pond Refactory, stays true to key Prairie-style characteristics:
- Integration with landscape
- Horizontal lines
- Flat or hipped roof with over hanging eaves
- Windows in groupings or horizontal bands
- Emphasis on CRAFTSMANSHIP
The last is central to the ever-lasting charm of these buildings.