Autumn in Washington Park

September 14, 2010

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)


There is a subtle crispness in the warm air in Washington Park now. It wasn’t there–or at least it wasn’t as pronounced–two weeks ago.

And the sun is beginning to bathe the park’s groves and meadows in a reddish hues as late afternoon meets early evening, now. You can fish in Washington Park’s lagoons still dressed in warm-weather clothes, but the trees surrounding the water are less green today than yesterday.

Autumn is coming to Washington Park.

For sure the fall season is soon to blanket the whole city and beyond given the official start to fall is only about 10 days away. But for my money, the 370-acre Washington Park is one of the best–and most unsung–places to see the colorful changes unfold.  As the park begins to turn russet and golden over the next month, talk a walk and see. Cross its bridges. Explore the wide open spaces and fields on the park’s northern half, then head south for more natural-looking areas, particularly secluded Bynum Island on the park’s southern end, not too far from Lorado Taft’s “Fountain of Time” sculpture.

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and partner Calvert Vaux (creators of New York’s Central Park) designed Washington Park. They also created the sunken, mile–long, 90 acre Midway Plaisance that links the park to Olmsted and Vaux’s superlative 570-acre Jackson Park.

By the end of October, Washington Park will look like this–as it did last last year:


(photo by Lee Bey)

I should point out Washington Park is an active place that pulses with assorted summer festivals.‚  Screen icon Pam Grier was there two weeks ago signing copies of her autobiography at the 2010 African Festival of the Arts. What does Pam Grier that have to do with architecture?‚  (Well, if you have to ask....)‚  And she's 61, by the way:


(photo by Lee Bey)