Nestled along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago, Northerly Island has become a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike. Once home to a small airport, the island has undergone a transformation in recent years, emerging as a stunning nature oasis in the middle of the bustling city. With a rich history and a plethora of recreational activities and attractions, Northerly Island has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a music enthusiast, Northerly Island is sure to captivate you. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at everything Northerly Island has to offer, from its history and natural environment to its events and festivals, sustainability efforts, and future plans.
Introduction to Northerly Island Chicago
Welcome to Northerly Island
Northerly Island is a stunning 91-acre peninsula situated in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. This man-made island was originally created to serve as an airport, but later transformed into a nature oasis that is now a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Filled with incredible wildlife, breathtaking views, and plenty of recreational activities, Northerly Island is a must-visit attraction in the windy city.
History and Transformation of Northerly Island
From Airport to Nature Oasis
Northerly Island was originally built as an airstrip in 1949, known as the Meigs Field Airport. The airport ceased operations in 2003, and the area was later transformed into a stunning nature preserve with a focus on restoring the natural environment. The transformation was part of a larger initiative to increase green space in Chicago and provide more recreational opportunities for its residents.
The Burnham Plan and Northerly Island
Northerly Island’s transformation was heavily influenced by the famous Burnham Plan, a blueprint for the city’s development that was created in 1909. The plan called for the creation of more public park space in Chicago, and Northerly Island’s transformation was a direct result of this. In 1933, the island was named after Daniel Burnham, the architect behind the plan.
The Natural Environment of Northerly Island
The Flora and Fauna of Northerly Island
Northerly Island is an incredible wildlife habitat that is home to a variety of plants and animals. Visitors can spot a wide range of birds, including hawks, herons, and even the occasional bald eagle. The island is also home to over 100 species of native plants, including prairie grasses and wildflowers.
The Northerly Island Habitat Development Project
The Northerly Island Habitat Development Project is a long-term initiative aimed at creating a healthy and sustainable ecosystem on the island. The project includes the restoration of native plant species, the creation of wetland habitats, and the reintroduction of several animal species that were once native to the area.
Recreational Activities and Attractions at Northerly Island
Northerly Island Park
The Northerly Island Park is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, with plenty of open space for picnics, sports, and other outdoor activities. Visitors can also take advantage of the park’s many walking and biking trails, which offer stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.
The Northerly Island Fishing Pier
The Northerly Island Fishing Pier is another popular attraction on the island, offering anglers the chance to cast a line in Lake Michigan. The pier is equipped with fishing stations and is open year-round, making it a great spot for fishing enthusiasts of all levels.
Whether you’re looking to explore the island’s natural beauty or participate in recreational activities, Northerly Island is an incredible destination that offers something for everyone.
Events and Festivals at Northerly Island
Northerly Island is one of Chicago’s most popular event venues, hosting a wide range of events and festivals throughout the year. One of the most popular events is the summer concert series, which brings some of the biggest names in music to the island’s outdoor amphitheater. Other popular events include the Chicago Air and Water Show, which draws huge crowds to see amazing aerial displays, and the annual Chicago Polar Plunge, which sees brave participants taking a dip in Lake Michigan during the chilly winter months.
Summer Concerts at Northerly Island
The summer concert series at Northerly Island is a must-see for any music lover in Chicago. With a capacity of up to 30,000 people, the venue has hosted some of the biggest names in music, from Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones to Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. The open-air amphitheater offers a stunning view of the city skyline, making for an unforgettable concert experience.
Chicago Air and Water Show
The Chicago Air and Water Show is one of the most anticipated events of the year in Chicago. Held every August, the show features jaw-dropping aerial displays from some of the biggest names in aviation. From thrilling stunts and precision formations to dramatic flyovers by military aircraft, the show is a sight to behold. The event is free to attend and draws huge crowds from all over the city and beyond.
Sustainability and Conservation Efforts at Northerly Island
Northerly Island is not just a great place to visit, it’s also a model for sustainability and conservation. The island has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years, from an old airport to a thriving nature reserve. Today, the island boasts a range of green initiatives and conservation efforts aimed at preserving its natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.
Green Initiatives at Northerly Island
Northerly Island has implemented a range of green initiatives aimed at reducing its environmental impact. These initiatives include a solar-powered concert stage, a wind-powered bird and butterfly garden, and a rainwater collection system used to water the island’s native plants.
Conservation Efforts at Northerly Island
Northerly Island’s conservation efforts are focused on restoring the island’s natural habitats and protecting its wildlife. The island is home to a wide range of native flora and fauna, including migratory birds, monarch butterflies, and endangered species like the Blanding’s turtle. Conservation efforts include habitat restoration, invasive species removal, and wildlife monitoring.
Getting to Northerly Island and Visitor Information
Northerly Island is located just south of downtown Chicago, making it easily accessible by public transportation or car. The island offers plenty of parking options for visitors, and is also served by several CTA bus routes. If you’re visiting from out of town, there are plenty of hotels and restaurants in the nearby Loop area.
Transportation Options to Northerly Island
Northerly Island is easily accessible by public transportation, with several CTA bus routes serving the island. Visitors can also take the Metra train to the nearby Museum Campus/11th Street station and walk to the island. For those driving to the island, there are several parking lots available on site.
Visitor Information for Northerly Island
Northerly Island is open to the public year-round, with varying hours depending on the season. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities on the island, from hiking and bird-watching to fishing and kayaking. The island also offers a visitor center with exhibits on its history and natural habitats.
Conclusion and Future Plans for Northerly Island
Northerly Island is a unique and beloved destination in the heart of Chicago. With its stunning views of the skyline, diverse wildlife, and commitment to sustainability, the island is a model for urban conservation. Looking ahead, there are plans to expand the island’s trails and habitat areas, and to continue hosting popular events and festivals throughout the year.
The Future of Northerly Island
The future of Northerly Island looks bright, with plans to expand the island’s natural habitats and trails, and to continue hosting popular events and festivals. The island’s commitment to sustainability and conservation will ensure that it remains a treasured destination for generations of Chicagoans to come.In conclusion, Northerly Island is a remarkable gem in the heart of Chicago, offering a unique experience to all who visit = also great for live music and concerts in Chicago. With its lush greenery, diverse wildlife, and exciting recreational opportunities, Northerly Island has something for everyone. As the city continues to grow and evolve, it’s exciting to see the ways in which Northerly Island will continue to develop and thrive. Whether you’re a resident of Chicago or just passing through, be sure to add Northerly Island to your list of must-visit destinations.
What is the history of Northerly Island?
Northerly Island was originally created as a man-made peninsula in 1909 and soon after became home to a small airport. The island played an important role in aviation history and served as a training site for pilots during World War II. In the early 2000s, the airport was closed and the island underwent a transformation to become a nature oasis in the heart of the city.
What recreational opportunities are available at Northerly Island?
Northerly Island offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching. The island is also home to a concert venue and hosts a variety of events throughout the year.
What is the best time of year to visit Northerly Island?
The best time to visit Northerly Island depends on your interests. Spring and summer are great for outdoor activities and events, while fall is a great time for birdwatching as many species migrate through the area. Winter offers a unique experience, with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities.
Is Northerly Island accessible for people with disabilities?
Yes, Northerly Island is accessible for people with disabilities. The park offers accessible trails, restrooms, and fishing areas. The park staff is also available to assist with any special accommodations.