Chicago’s famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham imagined Northerly Island as one of the northernmost points in a series of manmade islands stretching between Grant and Jackson Parks. His vision for this park included lagoons, harbors, beaches, recreation areas, a scenic drive and grand stretches of green space that would provide breathtaking views of the lake and City skyline. Northerly Island and Burnham Park were selected as the site of Chicago’s second World’s Fair entitled A Century of Progress, 1933-34, and by the early 1930s, Northerly Island had been increased to its present size. Northerly Island includes a 6 acre pond that is directly connected to Lake Michigan where the retaining wall from the 1933 World’s Fair can be seen and is now covered with native plants and serves as habitat for nesting and migratory birds. Surrounding the pond is multiuse trail the meanders through upland prairie and savanna habitat and hills that extend up to 50’ tall. It is also home to some of the best fishing in Chicago.
The wetland and savanna on the southern end of the island will continue to mature and are already attracting birds and fish as well as other native species. Visitors can walk and bike along a looping path and enjoy activities in nature.