Stearns Quarry Park, Chicago IL
27-acre Stearns Quarry Park opened in 2009 in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. The site was used as a limestone quarry from 1833 to 1969 by the Illinois Stone and Lime Company, after which it served as a municipal landfill: from 1969 to 1974, dirt, gravel, brick and construction debris were delivered to the site, filling the hole excavated by mining operations.
Guided by a design produced by site design group and landscape architecture firm D.I.R.T. Studio, the City of Chicago began park construction in 2005. As at the Freshkills Park site, coupling landfill closure and park construction required compliance with state regulations about, among other things, topsoil cleanliness and depth. More than 40,000 cubic yards of topsoil were imported to the site. Hundreds of trees were planted. Boardwalks over wetland areas were made of recyled plastic and wood. A stormwater containment system was constructed to catch and treat water before channeling it into the park’s wetlands and pond.
The completed park features a fishing pond and fountain, athletic fields, running paths, a hiking and sledding mound, public event space, a host of native plantings and related birds and wildlife, and an exhibited collection of 400 million-year-old fossils of aquatic animals. The Chicago Park District has put together an MP3 audio tour of the park, guided by a planner and historian, who reviews the site’s history and its current features.