Washington Square Park / Bughouse Square - Chicago, IL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member adgorn
N 41° 53.958 W 087° 37.872
16T E 447643 N 4638788
Quick Description: A low, brass marker commemorating the re-dedication of Chicago's premier free speech forum near the Newberry Library.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 10/29/2011 10:53:13 AM
Waymark Code: WMCZ88
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Corp Of Discovery
Views: 4

Long Description:
Marker text:
"Washington Square Park 1842
Also Known As
Bughouse Square
Chicago's Premier Free Speech Forum
Re-dedicated July 27, 1996
Chicago Park District The Newberry Library"

From the Chicago Park District's website at (visit link)
"In 1842, the American Land Company donated a three-acre parcel to the city for use as a public park. The donors named the site Washington Square, possibly after a similar park located in an elegant New York City neighborhood. As the developers had hoped, Chicago's Washington Square was soon surrounded by many fine residences and churches.

In 1869, the city began improving Washington Square with lawn, trees, bisecting diagonal walks, limestone coping, and picket fencing. By the 1890s, an attractive Victorian fountain adorned the square. Within a decade or so, however, it had been razed and the park had deteriorated. In 1906, when Alderman McCormick became President of Drainage Board, he decided to devote his aldermanic salary to improving the park. McCormick donated a $600 fountain, and the city allocated an additional $10,000 to rehabilitate the park. Landscape improvements were planned by the renowned designer, Jens Jensen, then a member of the board of the city's Special Park Commission.

By the 1910s, the neighborhood surrounding Washington Square had become more diverse. Because many old mansions were converted into flophouses, the park earned the nickname, "Bughouse Square." Like Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park, Washington Square became a popular spot for soap box orators. Artists, writers, political radicals, and hobos pontificated, lectured, recited poetry, ranted and raved. A group of regulars formed "The Dill Pickle Club," devoted to free expression. For years Washington Square orators appointed their own honorary "king."

In 1959, the city transferred Washington Square to the Chicago Park District. Although Alderman McCormick's fountain was removed in the 1970s, in the late 1990s, the park district, the city, and neighborhood organizations agreed on a restoration plan for Washington Square. Improvements include a reconstructed historic fountain, period lighting, fencing, and new plantings."

From Wikipedia
"The Bughouse Square Debates are an annual event sponsored by the Newberry Library in Chicago - see (visit link) The name Bughouse Square is the common nickname for Washington Square Park where the event is held. The name came from the word “bughouse” which was popular slang for mental health facilities in the early 20th century. The event is a celebration of Bughouse Square as it was one of the most celebrated outdoor free-speech centers in the United States and a popular Chicago tourist attraction.

From the 1910s all the way to the mid-1960s it was common to find orators speak about issues of the day. During its height in the 1920s and 1930s, poets, religionists, and cranks addressed the crowds, but the mainstays were soapboxers from the revolutionary left, especially from the Industrial Workers of the World, Proletarian Party, Revolutionary Workers League.

Today the debates are a celebration of First Amendment rights and encourage speakers and hecklers alike to join in and speak about important topics of the day. The event also includes reenactments of speeches by famous Chicagoans as well as open mic poetry, music and food vendors."

The above gets some of its info from the Encyclopedia of Chicago at (visit link)
County: Cook

Historical Society: Chicago Park District, The Newberry Library

Dedication Date: 7/27/1996

Location: west end of Washington Square Park

Website: [Web Link]

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