As with the mansions of Wicker Park, the profusion of prewar cultural and historical sites in the neighborhood suggest that the early 20th century was the time of its greatest commercial and social flowering.
A contrasting example of eccentric 1960s architecture that remains attractive and functional may be found at Eckhart Park, where an existing field house was complemented by this unusual Natatorium (enclosed swimming pool), one of two in the city.
Its most arresting feature is the swooping, gently curved “barrel shell” roof that arches over the pool, resembling in the words of one critic “a wave of concrete about to crash onto the shore of Chicago Avenue.” Large, sturdy supporting arches provide a simultaneous sense of grace and solidity, and window-walls of colored glass add a degree of whimsy. Sliding wall panels allow further contact with nature in warm months.
Mayor Richard J. Daley himself presided over the pool’s dedication in 1961, which was named for one of Chicago’s most prominent philanthropic families.