We all have our secret place that we wish to keep a secret. First date kiss spots, perfect hills for rolling, views that win you the cool points. Tucked in the “cut” of the South Shore Cultural Center on 71st and Exchange, a steady stride will take you past shady lawns, well-maintained beaches, and a cattail-covered lagoon. A winding wooden bridge overlooks baby frogs and bird-occupied branches, crossed at the top with two bonfire pits and a wonderful view of the water and our city’s skyscraper crown. A perfect spot for midday getaways or late-night lyrics, this nature sanctuary is a vital safe space for the community.
As the heat rises and the water freezes, discussions of if this natural gem will continue to live here stay in our forecast. Conversations and theories dispersed amongst the community shed light on which developmental decisions will be made to further the eye and comfort of newcomers. With the sanctuary at risk of being replaced with a giant golf course—rumored to be named after Tiger Woods—this scenic treasure sits atop a list of reasons why the South Shore community needs to remain intact. Not just for its people, but for the animals and other living creatures of this water-coasted land. According to the Chicago Park District, South Shore Nature Sanctuary “contains over six acres of dune, beach, wetland, pond, woodland, prairie, savanna, and shrubland habitats.”
Displacement is much bigger than the developments and businesses that separate an enriched culture from its people for profit. It also includes the displacement of all living things who inhabit this area. While pest extermination is still a common request from the residents of renovated older buildings, will the removal of mice bring an influx of private developers? Who’s to say; but nature-viewing and outside enjoyment can still be an occasion for a perfect date, a private artistic outing, or a secluded corner for you and your comrades. Join the elements and take in the city, in a way you never have before.
South Shore Nature Sanctuary, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. Dawn to dusk. (312) 742-7529.