Marquette Park is truly an oasis in a very industrialized part of the city. In fact, it holds the title as the largest park on the Southwest Side. There’s much to appreciate about the park, and because it’s roughly fifteen blocks wide, there is ample space for people from different neighborhoods to spread out and enjoy it.
Many people use the soccer fields and basketball courts, have cookouts under the trees, or walk, run or ride their bike on a nearly three-mile trail that loops around the park. The trail is also car-accessible, so people can drive to any part of the park, and many times the park has served as a training ground for new drivers or a meeting point for caravans.
One aspect of the park that I think is underrated and that I consider to be an oasis within an oasis is: the lagoon.
The lagoon is a narrow and shallow body of water that circles the park inside the perimeter of the trail. It’s reportedly about forty acres. From a bird’s eye view, it appears that two tiny islands are in the center—especially because Kedzie Avenue runs through the middle of the park.
My favorite way to access the lagoon is by walking the trail on the east end of the park. I’ll start on Kedzie, going on Mann Rd., which turns into Kanst Drive—and right there, inconspicuously, you’ll find an entrance amidst the trees and prairie bushes. It takes you on a small wooden bridge over the water, and for a minute, it makes you forget you’re in the city.
There’s not much else on the other end of the bridge, just more wilderness. The quiet atmosphere is perfect for fishing enthusiasts. There are about ten known species of fish in the water, including channel catfish and yellow bass.
Check it out one day when you want to clear your mind. And let’s help to maintain and protect this lovely piece of nature.
Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie Ave. 6am–11pm. (312) 747-6469.