Park Set to Open on Former Meigs Field Site

Federal funds enable construction.

If you’re one of the thousands of people who has held out hope for a reopening of Meigs Field, the beautiful lakefront airport that was conveniently located on Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago, we’re sad to announce that there will likely never again be an airport on Northerly Island. The city of Chicago is holding an opening ceremony for Northerly Island Park on Friday, more than 12 years after bulldozers dug up the runway at Meigs.

A 5-acre lagoon now cuts through the center of the peninsula where airplanes used to land on Meigs’ 3,900-foot-long runway. A walking/biking path winds around several hills that have been contoured into the formerly flat open fields.

The major transformation of the 40 southernmost acres of the 91-acre man-made peninsula (falsely called an island) from the flourishing airport that it once was to the park it now is cost $9.7 million and was funded mostly by federal tax dollars.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, nearly $5.5 million in federal funds was allocated in 2012 to a project named the “Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration” for this portion of Northerly Island. However, it appears the final taxpayer payout was $6.3 million, according to the Chicago Tribune. That is a big chunk of change for a project that was started by illegally demolishing the airport.

Only the remaining $3.4 million required to complete the project came from the Chicago Park District.

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