Osaka Garden

Garden of the Phoenix S Cornell Dr

Amy Bizzarri
Written By Amy Bizzarri

Chicago's White City bloomed into being for the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition, dazzling visitors with its grand, neoclassical buildings surrounded by canals and ornate gardens designed by renown landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. But it wasn't designed to last forever: the fancy facades were made not of marble, but of a cheap mixture of plaster, cement, and jute fiber, whitewashed with oil and lead paint. Of the over 200 buildings erected for the fair, only two still stand. Post-fair, Jackson Park, the expo's epicenter, was transformed into an interconnected system of serene lagoons surrounding the 15-acre Wooded Island. Wooded Island was where fair-goers went to catch a breath of fresh air. At its northern end stood the Ho-o-Den, a.k.a. the Phoenix Pavilion, a showcase of Japanese fine arts. At the southern end, the strolling garden, or kyuushiki, with its double pond, cascading waterfall and stone pathways through the cherry blossom trees and blooming flowers offered welcome shade and respite. In the 1930s, more Japanese elements were added, including the scenic moon bridge and stone lanterns. Across the lagoon lies the last remaining structure of the 1893 fair, the Palace of Fine Arts, which is today's Museum of Science and Industry. In 2014, the garden closed so that the Army Corps of Engineers could step in to restore the eroding lagoon shores, reset rocks and replace invasive trees with 400,000 native plants. In 2016, Yoko Ono unveiled the lotus-inspired Sky Landing, her first permanent work of art in the Americas, as a gesture of peace, harmony, and healing in the rebirthed garden. Tip: The "Golden Lady" sculpture, a one/third replica of Daniel Chester French's Statue of the Republic, the centerpiece of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, stands in the area between the exposition's Electricity and Administration Buildings (both demolished after the exposition), now an intersection, where Richards Drive joins Hayes Drive.

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