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Jackson Park Tops Preservation Chicago's Endangered Landmarks List For Second Straight Year


Jackson Park tops Preservation Chicago's 2018 "Chicago 7" list of endangered landmarks for the second straight year, once again shining a light on the tensions between the Obama Foundation and community groups over the location of the Obama Presidential Center.

Jackson Park's Osaka Gardens

Preservation Chicago cited the foundation's decision to build the center at Jackson Park as the main reason Jackson Park topped the list again. The center would require the removal of Cornell Drive and widening of South Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue. Other threats to Jackson Park identified by Preservation Chicago include a $30M plan to combine the South Shore Cultural Center and Jackson Park Golf Courses into a tournament-quality 18-hole course, and a visitors center and amphitheater south of the Museum of Science and Industry proposed by private group Project 120.

Preservation Chicago said it supports having the Obama Center on the South Side, but the public-private partnerships driving the changes to Jackson Park will destroy what makes the Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Law-designed park historic, shifting the burden of upkeep from private groups to taxpayers.

A worker works on the skylight at Union Station's Grand Hall.

Two notable downtown buildings made this year's list. Preservation Chicago added Union Station because Riverside Investment & Development's $1B renovation plan may include adding high-rises atop the headhouse, which Preservation Chicago said is nonconforming and possibly dangerous to the original structure. The group likens this to Soldier Field, which had its national landmark status stripped after the new stadium was built, though it preserved the historic colonnades.

The Thompson Center, which topped Landmarks Illinois' 2017 list of endangered state landmarks, makes this year's Chicago 7 cut because of Gov. Bruce Rauner's ongoing attempts to sell the Helmut Jahn-designed building. The Thompson Center has over $100M in deferred maintenance, and Jahn has proposed a 110-story skyscraper addition to the building.

The Hotel Guyon in West Garfield Park made its fourth appearance on the Chicago 7 list. The Jens Jensen-designed building is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is not a designated city landmark and has no legal protections against demolition. The city has tried to demolish the building in recent years, and there is now a court order in place to raze the building.