“The Insider's Guide” Of Where To Go And What To Do In Chicago
A park located between Montrose and Sunnyside Avenues, Welles Park is a great place to come listen to music, get your exercise on, swim some laps, or play a game of horseshoe.
Honoring Gideon Welles, a member of President Lincoln’s cabinet, Welles Park is rich in historical facts and relevance. It was one of the five parks created under the Lincoln Park Commission in 1910. The purpose was to try to bring more beauty to the neighborhood on the north side as the commission did to the communities on the west and south sides.
What started out as an 8-acre plot of land later expanded to host a small fieldhouse, indoor swimming pool, a beautiful European-styled gazebo, a fitness center, playgrounds, and multiple sports fields. The now 15-acre park is a place of pride in the neighborhood and not only has ADA accessible soft surface playgrounds but also programs for those who are developmentally disabled.
For some backstory about how a public land like Welles Park can change someone's life, the Harlem Globetrotters were founded by Abe Saperstein, who began his career as a coach in the Welles Park’s field house. He would go on to be inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame and Saperstein has Welles Park to thank for that.
The park is also a great place for fitness enthusiasts because of all the various fitness facilities they have available. Besides an indoor swimming pool that is open year-round, there is also a fully equipped fitness center to work out in.
The park also hosts many events for the general public like outdoor concerts and other performances in the gazebo. There are also outdoor pits that are perfect for leisure or a friendly game of horseshoes.
A six-minute walk from Montrose Brown Line stop and walking distance from many bus stops in the area, Welles Park is very accessible by public transportation. If you are traveling by car, there is free street parking around the park, but it is very limited.