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Northerly Island Opens Park !

Northerly Island Park Opens Friday 09/04/15 On Chicago’s Lakefront.

Twelve years after former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s “midnight raid” that shut down the small lakefront airstrip called Meigs Field, a new park will open Friday on the southern portion of what is now called Northerly Island, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday.

Accompanied by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the mayor previewed the 40-acre, $9.7 million park, which features man-made hills, a 5-acre lagoon and a winding bike and pedestrian trail. Great blue herons were spotted during the tour, which also offered sweeping views of the downtown skyline.

Referring to the airport’s conversion, as well as the transformation of an elevated railroad line into the new 606 trail and the new downtown Riverwalk, which replaces docks along the Chicago River, Emanuel said: “We are at the epicenter of taking old transportation platforms and turning (them)into public space.”

In 1996, after Daley announced he would close Meigs Field and turn it into a park, then-Gov. Jim Edgar got the General Assembly to authorize a state takeover of the airport. That led to a deal that kept Meigs open through 2002.

Before the tour began, Durbin recalled flying into the airport, where small planes shuttled politicians between Chicago and the state capital in Springfield.

The new park occupies almost half of the 91-acre Northerly Island, which is actually a peninsula linked to a land bridge that connects the Adler Planetarium to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum.

( Chicago Tribune )

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