Contrary to popular belief, all of Chicago’s parks are not closed to the public. And confusion about what’s open and what’s not open is driving a wave of 911 calls from concerned citizens who think people are banned from entering their neighborhood park.
Last Thursday evening, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the lakefront trail, “lakefront-adjacent parks”, the Riverwalk, and the 606 trail closed after warm weather drew crowds to those locations earlier in the day. The lack of “social distancing” prompted the mayor’s actions. Lightfoot also shuttered the parks’ fieldhouses and playgrounds.
At the same time, Lightfoot banned “contact sports, like basketball and football,” according to the order’s text (PDF). But going out for exercise while maintaining distance is still perfectly fine.
Since then, concerned neighbors have repeatedly summoned police to shoo away individuals from parks that remain open to the public. Even the sight of two people playing tennis, a traditionally non-contact sport, has generated multiple 911 calls from near Oz Park.
But members of the public aren’t the only ones who are unclear about where they can go and where they cannot. And what, exactly is “lakefront adjacent?”
On Tuesday evening, Chicago Park District security asked police to help clear people from park property near Stockton and La Salle in Lincoln Park. But cops didn’t see any unsafe congregating in the area and one officer told his dispatcher that the area in question — located more than one-third of a mile from the lake — appeared to be open to the public, per information cops received.
But yesterday, police and park security returned to the same general location to direct joggers and walkers out of the park.
So, which parks are open? Fortunately, the Chicago Park District has published a zoomable map of all park facilities for easy reference. Here’s the link.