The best of time, the worst of times: what we know about the newly funded design planning and construction project at the Point
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, . . . "* Promontory Point has never been in as safe a place and in as dangerous a place as it is right now. A difficult paradox to fathom but quite simply the truth.
The best of times: With the Point about to be made a Chicago landmark and already on the National Register of Historic Places, the historic limestone revetment and the Caldwell-Prairie Style landscape have never been more secure. If the City Council passes the ordinance making the Point a Chicago landmark on April 19, it will make it much more difficult to demolish the limestone revetment or destroy the Caldwell landscape at the Point. But, it will not make it impossible.
The worst of times: In the congressional acts that funded the federal budget at the end of last year, the City and Park District scored big on two fronts. First, they managed to tamper with and alter Congresswoman Robin Kelly's earmark preservation feasibility study and cost analysis for Promontory Point to make it meaningless and Pointless as it ended up in the October infrastructure bill. Second, they managed to find sponsorship for 65% federal funding of their "locally preferred plan" in the December Defense budget. Both these appropriations are devastating for preservation at the Point and for the community.
Here's what the Conservancy knows so far about the newly funded work at Promontory Point -- really, just the Chicago U.S. Army Corps's tentative schedule from the 2022 funding through 2029 construction completion.
The City (CDOT) and the Chicago Park District, however, have won the inside game by securing all the money. They have let the City-landmarking of the Point move forward because they believe that the money and the inside game will ultimately win.
The Conservancy's work now is to ensure that all the legal protections -- such as the National Register and Chicago Landmark protections -- are in place and are addressed thoroughly in whatever design the City promotes. We are working hard and continuously at our strong, preservation strategy and will continue to fight the good fight in the inside game as well as the outside game.
But it is in the political arena, the outside game, where the Point will be saved and only by the community as it continues to rally and advocate for fixing the historic limestone revetment and not destroying it.
Stay tuned as we finetune and present our preservation approach -- why it's cheaper, stronger, sustainable and better looking. (And fixing the limestone revetment means that only 1/3 of the Point is under construction at any one time while the other 2/3's are open all year for you to enjoy the Point.)
Please donate to support our ongoing work to ensure that genuine preservation construction happens at the Point in 2026. We need your support as we work to Save the Point Again!
* Opening line of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. 1859.
Debra Hammond is currently an officer of Promontory Point Conservancy. She has always been tall for her age