Adventure #8 – Garden of the Phoenix & Promontory Point

On Monday, our first stop was the Garden of the Phoenix (formerly known as the Osaka Garden – #40 on the list of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun) in Jackson Park. Getting to the Garden was an adventure by itself. My go to entrance (located behind the Museum of Science and Industry) was closed. So, we walked a little and soon realized that we would have to get back into the car and find another entrance. The Garden is on an island and there are only two pedestrian bridges. The first one, we found out is not accessible. We hoped back onto Lake Shore Drive and headed south, turning on the next street, Hayes Drive. As we made our way to the parking lot (located on the north side of the street), we passed The Republic. I promised Morgan we would stop and take a picture our way back.

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We walked the path that was lined with a variety of trees and wild flowers. In a few minutes we came to the Garden of the Phoenix. This was the original location of the Japanese Garden and Ho-o Den. Both were built for the World Columbian Exposition in 1893. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, the buildings were destroyed by a fire and the garden was abandoned. In 1981 a new garden was built.

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As soon as you walk through the entrance, you have walked into one of Chicago’s hidden gems.

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The kids were so excited to walk on the rock steps in front of the waterfall and cross the bridge, that I had to remind them that we were in a tranquil place and our level of excitement needed to be less vocal.

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Everywhere I looked, there was another photo opportunity. I kept the kids very busy, promising with each picture, that it would be the last one. It ended up being a foolish promise to make.

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Before we left the Garden of the Phoenix, I grabbed one more shot and took a short video. I was hoping to capture the beauty and magic that this place holds, but it is definitely something you have to see with your own eyes.

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Just outside of the Garden is a sculpture created by Yoko Ono, titled Skylanding. I loved how Morgan was illuminated when standing in the center. The sun bouncing off the petals provided nice lighting.

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We departed Wooded Island and made our stop at The Statue of the Republic. Even though, we had visited the statue a few years ago, Morgan was super excited, having just learned about The Republic and her role at the World Columbian Exposition.

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The Chicago Park District’s description of The Statue of the Republic:

Installed in 1918, the Statue of the Republic commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park and the centennial of statehood for Illinois. The twenty-four-foot-tall gilded bronze sculpture is a much smaller and slightly modified version of Daniel Chester French’s original sixty-five-foot-tall Statue of the Republic, one of the most iconic features of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. (On its base, the original sculpture rose to a total height of one hundred feet.) Composed of gilded plaster, the original monumental female figure stood with outstretched arms at the eastern end of the fair’s Court of Honor.

Shortly after the fair, a fire destroyed the original Statue of the Republic. In 1918, the B.F. Ferguson Fund and the Woman’s World Fair Fund commissioned Daniel Chester French to create the commemorative version. The existing gilded bronze twenty-four foot tall statue stands on a ten-foot-high base by architect Henry Bacon. The total project budget of $56,000 included $47,000 that had remained in the treasury of the exposition. Installed on the site of the Fair’s Administration Building in Jackson Park, the monument was unveiled on May 11, 1918. Although World’s Fair visitors had nicknamed the original sculpture “Big Mary,” the smaller version is known best today as the “Golden Lady.” The commemorative sculpture was re-gilded and rededicated in 1993 in tribute to the centennial of the World’s Columbian Exposition.

We drove back to the parking lot located behind the Museum of Science and Industry, parked and walked over to Promontory Point (#42).

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We found a shaded spot to have lunch and enjoyed the view of the skyline. As we ate lunch, I told the kids that George Lucas was married here. Sydney found that very cool.

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Promontory Point is a man-made peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan. It is located in Burnham Park. The Point was constructed from landfill in the late 1930s. It was opened to the public in 1937. Alfred Caldwell designed the landscaping, using native plants and stone. Caldwell’s design featured a raised “meadow” section in the center of the 12-acre peninsula and included hundreds of flowering trees and shrubs. Few of Caldwell’s original plantings remain today.

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Our last stop was at the 57th Street Beach. The view of the beach from Promontory Point was amazing. Especially with the Museum of Science and Industry acting as a backdrop.

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On the walk back to the car, as we were walking under Lake Shore Drive, we spotted a mosaic that perfectly summed up a day.

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