Archive ID: FIC-0000-002

Gymnast at Calumet Park Fieldhouse

Date Created: circa 1950s

Donor: Southeast Chicago Historical Society

Media Type: Photograph


Calumet Park was one of 15 parks south of the Chicago River planned by Chicago’s South Park Commission in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The designs for the park system originated with famous landscape architects Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr. & sons and by Daniel Burnham. Calumet Park, originally known as Park No. 11, was created in 1904 and a fieldhouse was added in 1924. It is the southernmost and least known of Chicago’s lakefront parks. City parks and the wide variety of activities they sponsored are central in the oral histories of Southeast Chicago residents. Robert Bork, the son of Swedish immigrants, was born in Southeast Chicago in 1906. He recalled that in the 1910s, Calumet Park would host band concerts and ball games as well as hot air balloon events and greased pig contests on the Fourth of July. Born in 1921, Myrtle Sturk, like many others, described how when she was growing up, “the park was my life.” She attended gym classes, swam at the beach, used the track, and skated on the ice pond at Calumet Park. During the 1920s and 30s, the size of Calumet Park increased substantially. Major landfill operations, using slag from the neighboring steel mills, increased the park’s size from 40 to 194 acres by 1934. The park is now 199 acres after another acquisition in 1993. The photo of this young gymnast was taken in the Calumet Park fieldhouse which also houses the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. Calumet Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

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Buildings/Landmarks   Community Life   Parks   Recreation   1950-1979   East Side   Other/Unknown   Photograph   Athletics   Buildings   Calumet Park   Children   Crowds   East Side   FIC-0000-002   Gymnasiums   Gymnastics   Parks   Photograph   Photographs   Recreation   Sports