Father’s Day at Palmisano Park

This weekend I went to Palmisano Park with Judy and our older son Daniel. Our younger son David is in Minnesota, but he and I had a nice talk on the phone.

Danny and I at Palmisano Park.
Danny and I at Palmisano Park.

Palmisano is an award winning park in the old and very urban neighborhood of Bridgeport (historic home of the Daley clan), south of the Loop. Work on the park began in 2009 on the site of a quarry that for 40 years had been used as a dump for construction debris. Today the park includes prairie and wetland habitats as well as a two acre pond.

We started off with lunch at Pleasant House, about a 10 minute walk from the park, a place that specializes in English-style meat pies. Suitably fortified, we headed out to explore this 27 acre pocket of nature in the city.

Palmisano Park fountain.
Palmisano Park fountain.

You enter from busy Halsted Street, coming to a fountain that recalls the cranes that were used in the old quarry. All the water that falls on Palmisano Park stays in the park, and water circulates from the pond to the fountain and back.

View of the pond.
View of the pond.

The walk to the pond is a steady descent. Overall, I thought the restored habitats seemed remarkably lush and full given that they had not been planted until 2011.

Smooth Penstemon
Smooth Penstemon

 

Penstemon, unknown species
Penstemon, unknown species

Along the way, we got to see some wildflowers. Right now is not when the prairie is at its most colorful, but we got to see both smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis), and a blue variety I didn’t recognize.

Coreopsis with Penstemon.
Coreopsis with Penstemon.

There was also Coreopsis (I think it was C. lanceolata, but I couldn’t get close enough to tell).

Daisy Fleabane
Daisy Fleabane

Daisy fleabane was blooming (Erigeron strigosus).

Purple Prairie Clover, without the tutus.
Purple Prairie Clover, without the tutus.

Also, purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) was in evidence, although the flowers didn’t yet have the blooms that remind me of purple tutus.

2014-06-14 17.05.59 Palmisano Park

As we descended, we got to watch shallow waters flowing and trickling downhill, occasionally channeled into little waterfalls. Much of the construction was done with slabs of repurposed concrete.

Blue Flag Iris
Blue Flag Iris

As we transitioned into the wetlands, we saw some blue flag iris (Iris versicolor).

Arrowhead
Arrowhead

 

Unknown wetland grass.
Unknown wetland grass.

There was also common arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) and a wetland grass unknown to me but interesting-looking nonetheless.

2014-06-14 17.01.47 Palmisano Park

I enjoyed seeing the sun reflect off the flowing water as we got closer to the pond.

Fishing in the quarry pond.
Fishing in the quarry pond.

Palmisano Park was designed with the environment in mind, but it is very people-friendly. There were joggers, walkers, and kite flyers. Once we got down to the pond we found several families on fishing expeditions. I don’t know if they caught anything, but the state Department of Natural Resources keeps the pond stocked with fish.

Playing in the water.
Playing in the water.

We also saw a father supervising his kids as they played in the shallow water. I’m not sure why, but there is something about moving water that is magical for children, and ideally all should have the opportunity to play in a quiet stream.

Bridgeport Coffee Company
Bridgeport Coffee Company

After we were done walking, we retired to Bridgeport Coffee  (at 31st and Morgan) where we had a long relaxing talk over some excellent iced coffee. If you find yourself in the Bridgeport neighborhood, this place is definitely worth visiting. Great coffee, pleasant and informal atmosphere, and good service. Oh, and they also have locations in Hyde Park and in the South Loop on Roosevelt Road.OK, full disclosure: the brother of a good friend of mine is a part owner. However, I didn’t learn this until after I had been there, and I had already decided that I really liked it.

I hope to get back to Palmisano Park later in the summer when more of the prairie flowers are in bloom and the grasses have reached their full height. And, of course, visit Pleasant House and the Bridgeport Coffee Company.

Did you do anything special for Father’s Day weekend?

45 Comments on “Father’s Day at Palmisano Park

  1. Isn’t it amazing how quickly plants can establish? I love the idea of those tutus! It sounds like you had an excellent Fathers’ Day. Our kids dragged their dad to the pub, then we all went to a BBQ where the dads did all the cooking (not sure how that happened), followed by a quintessentially English game of croquet. I think your son is clearly looking after you better than our kids look after their dad (although I don’t believe the dads did all the washing up – so it wasn’t as tough on them as it might have been!)

  2. I’m going to pass this post on to our daughter & family who live in the uppermost part of Chicago. Sounds like a great way to spend a day! The plants you identified remind me of a wetlands/prairie spot created in a small town nearby. We visited it last Friday (the paved walk is perfect for my hip rehab)!

  3. Happy Father’s Day! We took a ride to Ipswich Mass and had fried clams, then stopped and played in Patton Park in Hamilton, the home of General Patton and family. Someday I would love to see the prairie in bloom!

  4. Glad you had a nice outing with you son. It’s nice to see places like this get a second life. We had a nice long chat with our daughter on the west coast. My husband requested pancakes, so we had buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and fresh peaches.

  5. This looks a wonderful day out with your son, lovely to see land being reclaimed like this too. Great photo of you both, I can see the similarity! We spent it with most of my siblings, their families and our Dad in his lovely garden.

    • This site was really given a new lease on life – literally. But putting a dump in the middle of a densely populated area is the kind of thing we used to do.

  6. Great day with your son! The park looks really lovely and like a tranquil oasis in the city. It definitely seems lush for only being there a few years. What a treasure!

    • I was just talking to someone who lives near the park and she had no idea what was in there until she saw my post. The park is an oasis as you say, though it actually has some spots with great views of the skyline.

  7. What a lovely place to visit with your son, and nice to hear it is well used, it also looks like a wonderful place for wildlife!xxx

  8. This is fascinatng, I didn’t even know this place existed. You had a beautiful day. Thanks for identifying the Daisy Fleabane, I took some pictures over the weekend of it and others I still have to figure out.

    • I think a lot of people still don’t know about it, I only heard about it because it was talked about in a lecture I attended.

  9. What a great FD you had. It looks like your son is a fine young man too. The park seems like a nice, relaxing place to visit, I bet the pollinators will be doing just that.

  10. Good to hear about a new park in Chicago. Thanks for the introduction. For FD, the kids were here and we had a good time. I got close to nature, first by counting some sheep and then by sawing a few logs.

  11. I have not been here before!!! Thanks for sharing this one as it looks just fantastic….I am adding it to my list!! And that first shot of you and your son is awesome! A very Happy Father’s Day to you!

  12. Hi Jason, there’s some very heavy duty stone and concrete work in the restored park, which is understandable, given it was a quarry. It’s amazing how it was all restored and it hasn’t taken long after planting for all the plants to establish, come together and fill out.

  13. It was a nice day and wonderful stroll with your son in this renovated park, Jason. Happy belated Father’s day!
    I love the wild flowers too and they look nice on your photos.

  14. A bit too late but still a belated happy fathers day to you :-). You really know all the native species. I see many of them around here and in my yard, but hardly know them. Seems like a real place to visit and wander around.

  15. My son is in the Air Force so Father’s Day is on hold until July for the two of us but my daughter and I had a nice talk.
    I like the way they built a sort of amphitheater down to the pond. It looks like a great place to spend the day. I think your mystery grass might be panicled bulrush (Scirpus microcarpus.)

  16. Sounds like a great day, you’re lucky to have this time together.
    The park is nice, I always like parks best when they hold on to some kind of history and still look like a quarry or whatever else they were in a past life.

  17. I love places like this that have been repurposed, especially if they are now parks.

  18. What a perfect way to spend Father’s Day! Our son is fighting wildfires in the West, so we did not get to see him, but thank goodness for cell phones. Our daughter was with us the week before so we celebrated with her before hand. That is a remarkable park. I am fascinated with the way they repurposed the concrete.

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