Neighborhood News: Think Spring at Lincoln Park Conservatory

On March 1, the planet celebrated its entry into Meteorological Spring, and it went all-out with 50-degree temperatures in Chicago, three weeks ahead of ‘regular ‘spring.  

What better place to celebrate the rites of spring than the Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 North Stockton Drive? A Chicago Park District landmark, the domed glass building is just south of Fullerton Avenue and west of Lake Shore Drive. 

Any time of the year, the lush tropical flowers and florid environment transforms the  Chicago experience into a tropical staycation! 

According to their website, Lincoln Park Conservatory offers visitors a tropical experience within its four display houses: Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House and of course, their Show House, which is home to their annual flower shows.

How It All Began… 

As told on the conservatory’s website, in 1874, Lincoln Park hired its first gardener and built what would be the conservatory’s first greenhouse. Thirteen years later, in 1887, the Formal Garden was added along with four additional greenhouses that support the garden. Soon after, the Eli Bates Fountain and the Von Schiller Monument were added with the garden.

According to Wikipedia sources, in the early nineteenth century, the development of iron and glass building technology led to the constructions of conservatories in major cities in the United States as well as other countries in the world. Chicago had become overcrowded as its population had increased rapidly. 

With a growing concern about the ill effect of industrialization, architects Joseph Lyman Silsbee and M.E. Bell designed and built an exotic-style glass conservatory which was described as “a (Victorian) paradise under glass.”

Between 1890 and 1895, the Lincoln Park Conservatory took shape. The vestibule and Palm House were built and opened to the public in 1892 and contain giant palms and rubber trees, including a 50 foot fiddle-leaf rubber tree planted in 1891. Grandmother’s Garden was added across the street from the Formal Garden between what is now Stockton Drive and Lincoln Park West. In 1893, the William Shakespeare monument was added as a centerpiece to this Old English-style perennial garden.

It’s ‘Florasonic!’


Known for their unique arrangements of plants and art, in ‘Florasonic,’ the Conservatory promises that “you might hear Evolutionary Sounds emerging in the Fern Room. Woodwind instruments, birdsong and field recordings gathered in the Prairie State of Illinois are manipulated to reveal a native soundscape somehow in harmony with the exotic flora inside the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Slowing down bird sounds to a more human friendly speed unveils a beauty and complexity achieved over millennia.” 

The show runs through Sunday, April 9.

It’s Still Free! 

As their website notes, no matter the time of year, Lincoln Park Conservatory is always green and lush. They invite you to “Come take a stroll and let yourself be transported away. Admission is free.”

The Lincoln Park Conservatory is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. For information, current exhibits, and tickets, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago