Project Spotlight: Midway Plaisance

Clarence Davids & Company is proud to have installed countless landscapes throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. We have installed several gardens on the Midway Plaisance over the past few years. This site is now featured in the What’s Out There Chicago Guide from The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). The text below is an excerpt from the Guide.

The Midway Plaisance is a 90-acre linear park that includes a mile-long boulevard that links Washington and Jackson Parks. Designed in 1870 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and Calvert Vaux, the park was meant to feature a pleasure drive and an intricate canal system that would provide a water approach from Lake Michigan to the Washington Park mere, but this design was never realized.

In 1893, the Midway Plaisance was selected as the entertainment section of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Amusements such as the world’s first Ferris wheel were located here, as were exhibitions, foreign pavilions, and other attractions. After the exhibition closed, the site was redesigned by Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot to include drives lined with elm trees, walks, bridle paths, and an axial canal down the center (never built). A dry fosse currently marks where the canal would have been.

The Midway Plaisance cuts through the University of Chicago campus and has been improved over the last century. In 1999, Olin Partnership and Wolff Landscape Architecture worked with the Chicago Park District, the University of Chicago, and local community members to develop a master plan for Midway Plaisance, resulting in designs for the Allison Davis Garden, a Winter Garden, Reader’s Garden, and an ice rink. Clarence Davids & Company received an award from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association in 2009 for our work on the Midway Plaisance.

Photo credit: Abbie Lydon
Photo credit: Abbie Lydon
Photo credit: Abbie Lydon
Photo credit: Abbie Lydon