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Chicago Children's Museum Caucus

"Forever open, clear and free"


The Chicago Children’s Museum Caucus has been established for the express purpose of preventing the facility from being relocated from Navy Pier to the north edge (Randolph Street) of Grant Park.  Opposition is based on the laws and historic traditions first set forth by Daniel Burnham (Pictured) in The Plan for Chicago (1909), which called for Grant Park to be "forever open, clear and free."


The Board of Directors of the CCM, and Chairman Gigi Pritzker, announced plans to relocate the Museum from its current location at Navy Pier to a site in Grant Park. Mayor Daley has given initial support to the proposal.  However, local residents, community leaders, independent civic organizations, the media and the majority of citizens have expressed overwhelming dissatisfaction and opposition to the proposal. Forty-Second Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly came out in opposition, and has led a heroic fight in the City Council as well as at the grassroots.

Current Status

The proposal has been approved by the Chicago Park District.  In coming weeks, it will be put before the Chicago Plan Commission, the Zoning Board and the Chicago City Council.  The vote in the City Council is expected to be close.

Why the north end of Grant Park?

The CCM offers this answer on their website.

Daley Bicentennial Plaza, at the north end of Grant Park, is centrally located and accessible by all modes of transportation. In addition, Chicago Children's Museum's presence in Daley Bi will enhance existing partnerships with the park's other world-class institutions, such as the Art Institute, and reinforce the city's reputation as a vibrant cultural center.

Nothing in their rationale is unique to the chosen site , and much of the explanation seems little more than puffy public relations language.  PPC believes that CCM has not made a compelling case.

The Race Card

In the absence of credible arguments, the proponents have shamelessly played the race card -- falsely claiming that opposition is merely predicated on a desire to keep minority children out of the area.  The racial accusation is as wrong as it is scurrilous. The community is composed of a highly diverse population, the programs of the Daley Bicentennial Center currently include children of every ethnic background and opposition reaches far beyond the local neighborhood.

Opposition Arguments

Juxtaposed to the vacuous arguments of the proponents of the proposal is a litany of countervailing arguments.  These include:

  1. First and foremost are the laws and covenants that protect Grant Park from such an intrusion.  These laws have been upheld time and time again.  Advancement of this proposal would most likely result in long and expensive litigation.

  2. The historic and contemporary will of the people.  Chicagoans have a high degree of respect for the tradition of our protected lakefront. 

  3. The approval of this proposal would subject the city to a prolonged and divisive civic battle, with obvious repercussions for the Olympics.

  4. That area is already serviced by one of the best Chicago Park District facilities in city, the Daley Bicentennial Center.  It provides an array of athletic, entertainment and educational programs for adults and children.  We believe the imposition of the Museum at this site would needlessly disrupt an established and successful program – a program that reaches out to ALL the constituents of our diversified city.

  5. The proposed Children’s Museum would be just 400 feet from the base of the 83-story Aon Building, which security forces has deemed the number two potential terrorist target in Chicago.  One only need look at the closing of Meigs Field, and millions spent on security for the Aon Building, itself, and the evacuation plans in effect for that area to know that the risk is not beyond reason.  While we should not shrink in fear, it is quite another to take unnecessary new risks.

  6. A number of better sites have been identified – some in the neighborhoods and some in less potentially dangerous areas of the central city.

  7. The Grant Park site overtaxes an area that is already burdened with the influx of new development, people and cars.

  8. One of the main access routes is Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, among the most dangerous intersections in the city.  It is considered so dangerous that the southern crosswalk of Michigan Avenue was permanently closed for the safety of pedestrians.

  9. The additional traffic promised by the proponents would increase both air and noise pollution in that area.  This is already a concern, and idling busses are among the most serious contributors to vehicular pollution.

  10. The proposal is another inch toward the edge of a slippery slope that eventually can overtake the unique quality of Grant Park that is so richly cherished today. Even this proposal attempts to obfuscate the future impact of its design and function.  Proponents attempted to circumvent the height limitations.  They argue as if a “buried” museum does not, somehow, consume the “open, clear and free” space of the park.  They discount the consumed land area beyond the footprint of the building, itself. 

  11. The CCM quietly incorporated plans for external restaurants and the serving of liquor, offering only meaningless “assurances’ that they will not abuse these provisions.  The revelations of the restaurant plans and the serving of liquor strongly indicate further undermining of the Grant Park legal covenants.

  12. While it is called a museum, it would be, apart from the Millennium Park Grill, the most commercial enterprise ever allowed in the Park.

  13. Locating the museum in Grant Park will deprive another section of the city the benefits of the children’s facility.  Whether along the Chicago River, adjacent to the Harold Washington Library, over the tracks south of Grant Park or in the neighborhood, the facility will enhance the location. We would exchange negative impact with positive impact.

  14. Despite its “central location,” the site is not conveniently accessed by the general public.  The notion that this well serves the minority community is a canard.  Minority access would be far better at other locations.

URGENT!!! Write to your alderman NOW

You can write to your alderman at City Hall

The Honorable (your alderman) ß See list below
City Council
City Hall
121 North LaSalle Street
, IL 60602

For a list of alderman, ward addresses and email addresses, click here http://www.aidschicago.org/pdf/2007/adv_alderman_info.pdf

Relevant Documents

News Release
Letter to Mayor Daley
Letter to Museum Board of Directors
Letter to Chicago Plan Commission

Allied Groups and Supporters (Add your name or organization. See box below.)
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun-Times
www.SaveGrantPark.org  3
Click here for more detailed information.
Alderman Brendan Reilly
Better Government Association
Committee to Keep Lincoln Park Public
Friends of Downtown
Friends of the Park CENTER at Logan Square
Friends of the Parks
Landmarks Illinois
New Eastside Association of Residents
Preservation Chicago

How you can help!

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