© Special Collections Department,
Richard J. Daley Library,
University of Illinois at Chicago
This exhibit depicts the formative years of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. A few far-sighted individuals led the charge to the creation of this vast, yet easily accessible expanse of forest near one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas. The exhibit explains how people envisioned the preservation of thousands of acres of land, lobbied local and state officials for supportive legislation, and won approval from Cook County voters. Over a twenty-year period, leaders of the movement, like Dwight Heald Perkins and Jens Jensen, had to answer hard questions including: • Why does Cook County need a forest preserve? • What constitutes a natural forest? • Who will be in charge of these new forest preserves? • How can the necessary land be purchased? • Where will the district be located? The centerpiece of this exhibit is the collection of glass lantern slides used by Dwight Heald Perkins in his lectures, public talks, and conferences. Perkins used these images to engage state lawmakers and the general public. The main exhibit tells the story of the founding of the forest preserves. You can read the story straight through, or click on one of the shortcuts above to skip to the different stages of the preserves’ development. “Foundations” introduces you to what life was like in Chicago in the early twentieth century and looks at why people wanted a forest preserve. “Preserves” tells the story of the initial campaigns to drum up popular support for the idea of forest preserves, culminating in the groundbreaking Metropolitan Park Report in 1905. “Challenges” examines the numerous legal and political obstacles that Perkins and his allies faced in trying to make the preserves a reality. “Success” recounts the early years of the preserves and the attempts to purchase and acquire land. “Legacy” offers a glimpse into the preserves’ later growth and development. Clicking on an image or document will bring up a pop-up window with a larger image for closer study. Click on one of the menu choices on the left to look at the exhibit's educational materials. “People” contains short biographies of a few of the many important advocates for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. “Organizations” gives more information about important organizations involved in the district’s founding. “Documents” allows you to look at firsthand evidence from the forest preserves’ early history. The “Links” section lists other interesting sites you might wish to consult for further reference. “Bibliography” lists the sources we used to write this history of the preserves. Most of the material taken from this exhibit comes from the Forest Preserves District of Cook County Collection at the Special Collections Department of the Daley Library, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This collection is scheduled to be open to the public in 2011. The collection and the online exhibit would not have been possible without the generous support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation. See the “About this Exhibit” for more details.
About this Exhibit