1999: The opening of Ping Tom Park

Chinatown’s beloved Ping Tom Park opened in 1999, after three decades since Chinatown’s only two parks were demolished. In the 1960s, the city tore down Hardin Square and Stanford Park in order to make way for the Dan Ryan Expressway on the southern edge of Chinatown. Two full generations of children in Chinatown grew up without a park. Acting on the community’s need for a new green space, prominent civic leader Ping Tom led the project for the park. In 1991, the parks district purchased the vacant railroad land on top of which the park sits from Santa Fe Railroad. Unfortunately, Tom passed 5 years before the park’s completion.

The park’s design reflects the culture of the Chinatown community, with a central pagoda, murals, decorated boat house, and Chinese symbols, which can be found throughout the expansive park. There are even Chinese plants, such as bamboo. The river runs alongside it, making it an excellent location for festivals, like the annual Dragon Boat Race.