5/11/11: Chicago’s Urban Quarry

But winter crept in and I didn’t get a chance to go to the quarry until last weekend. It was 70 degrees and beautiful in Chicago, so we rode our bikes about 15 miles (stopping at a Cinco de Mayo fest along the way for sopes and churros) to this rolling green park. It actually felt more like Las Vegas than it did Chicago, probably because it’s actually a converted landfill. The park rises into a grassy hump 630 feet above sea level, while the water at its base rests at 545 feet above sea level. That’s quite an elevation change for Chicago, and, at its height, that means great views of historic church steeples across the city, and at its depth, peaceful views of a green fishing pond, surrounded by an old quarry, and its remaining pieces of equipment.
The quarry dates back to 1830, when it was used to mine limestone. It operated until about 1970, and then was converted to a landfill site for construction debris. By 2002, the landfill was, well, full. So the City of Chicago transformed the 27-acre park into a green space, striped with walkable bridges, trails and a fishing pond. It opened to the public in 2009. Throughout the park, informational signs talk about the history of Bridgeport, the background of the quarry and point out notable architecture within view.
The quarry is a pretty impressive little gem (ha!) within the city, and I look forward to returning with a picnic. While I didn’t see anyone wearing feathered headresses or leather fringe vests, my positive association with quarries continues. Old Eagle Eye approves.

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