North Park Village: Maple Syrup Festival

March 24, 2013 | 10 am - 3 pm

North Park Village Nature Center
5801 N. Pulaski Rd. 
Chicago, IL 60646

History: The Nature Center is situated within the 155-acre North Park Village campus. The site occupies land owned in the nineteenth century by Pehr Peterson who transformed its pre-settlement landscape of wet woods into a farm and landscape nursery. The farm was later purchased by the City of Chicago for the establishment of a tuberculosis sanitarium, which opened in 1915. After the sanitarium's 1974 closure, a nature preserve was created in the northwest corner of the expansive site. Today North Park Village Nature Center is part of a network of nature areas on the city's northwest side, including high quality prairies and savannas along the North Branch of the Chicago River that are owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Openlands' Involvement: The City's plans to redevelop the sanitarium site as a shopping center following its closure led to ardent protests by the community. Openlands was a key partner in the coalition led by the North River Commission that successfully advocated for the preservation of the land as public property. The subsequent designation of the site as North Park Village included the creation of a nature preserve planted with native species, the conversion of some sanitarium-era buildings to senior housing, and the establishment of Peterson Park as well as a recycling center. In 1989, Openlands was granted a conservation easement by the City of Chicago on the 155-acre site to preserve all of the existing green space, including the Nature Center, for 75 years. Openlands and many community groups have been advocating since then to make that easement permanent but have not yet been successful. Openlands' TreeKeeepers also volunteer on Wednesday and Sunday mornings at the Nature Center, and Openlands has long been active in the North Park Village Advisory Council.

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