SPRINGFIELD , IL
Lincoln Park ’s official opening was in October, 1905. Its area predecessor had been Oak Ridge Park, developed in the 1860’s after the Springfield City Railway Company purchased a small amount of land for a streetcar stop. Oak Ridge Park eventually grew to 12 acres. By 1900, the Pleasure Driveway and Park District formed. As the District began researching potential city park sites, one of the favored sites was the “Carpenter Tract”, just north of Oak Ridge Park and east of Oak Ridge Cemetery. There were opponents to the site due to the proximity of the Cemetery, and they favored an area north of the Illinois State Fairgrounds instead. In the end, the “Carpenter Tract” was selected because it was within walking distance of the City’s center. The combined Carpenter Tract and Oak Ridge Park eventually became “ North Park”, to be renamed Lincoln Park in 1905.
The crown jewel of Lincoln Park is its historic, magnificent bridge. The bridge was constructed in the summer of 1911 at a cost of $2,222.00. Four Grecian column lights adorned the bridge, but were removed in 1920 due to irreparable vandalism damage. Architect George H. Helmle designed the bridge and also the Lincoln Park Pavilion. J.S. Culver Stone Company did the stone veneer work.
In 1938, an additional 1.6 acres near Third St. and Black Ave. were annexed to the park.
The current residents of Springfield’s north end find much delight in Lincoln Park, as did their ancestors. Today’s park features 6 open public picnic areas and 1 shelter. There are two giant playground areas. Free tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and the newly popular disc golf are enjoyed by many.
The Nelson Center, home to Springfield’s Junior Blues Hockey organization, offers two public skating rinks, skating lessons, hockey leagues and lessons, as well as figure skating. The Center’s popular swimming pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year. Lincoln Park is also the location of FunShop, structured activities for children age 6 months to 5 years and their parents, and Camp Sunshine, a camp for mentally challenged youths from 8 to 25 years old. Summer Camp and Winter Camp are day-care alternatives for school-age children during the summer vacation and Christmas break each year.
Lincoln Park ’s Pavilion, which holds 150 people, the Franklin Room at Nelson Center which holds up to 200 people and offers kitchen facilities, and the ice rinks are all available for rental.