In 1990, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced plans for the creation of Challenger Park through a public-private effort involving the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the Chicago Cubs. Located only a few blocks from Wrigley Field, the debris-strewn site included a dilapidated alley and vacant land adjacent to Graceland Cemetery. The city and park district financed the project, supplemented by donations from Cubs Care, the Graceland Cemetery Trustees, and the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation. The 1991 project transformed the half-mile stretch of land into a linear park with native trees, grasses, wildflowers, jogging and walking paths, new sewers, lighting, and a new alley running underneath the elevated trusses. The project also included a dual-purpose basketball court and parking lot. During Cubs games only, this court provides a 200-car lot patrolled by Cubs security personnel.
The Chicago Park District named the site Challenger Park in memory of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster of January 28, 1986. The Challenger crew included six astronauts, Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, and Gregory Jarvis and a teacher, Christa McAuliffe. Moments after take-off, a structural problem with the rocket boosters caused the space shuttle to explode and fall into the ocean. All seven crew members perished in this tragic accident.
Hours: Park: 6am - 11pm