Meigs Field Airport in Chicago was a single strip airport that operated from December 1948 until March 2003. Northerly Island, owned by the Chicago Park District, is the only lakefront structure to be built based on Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago. The island was to be populated by trees and grass for the public enjoyment by all. However, drafted less than six years after the Wright brothers’ historic flight, the 1909 plan did not envision any airports for Chicago.
In 1994, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced plans to close the airport and build a park in its place on Northerly Island. Northerly Island where the airport was located was owned by the Chicago Park District, which refused to renew the airport lease in 1996. In a controversial move on the night of Sunday, March 30, 2003, Mayor Daley ordered city crews to destroy the runway immediately, in the middle of the night, bulldozing large X-shaped gouges into the runway surface. Interest groups, led by the Friends of Meigs Field, attempted to use the courts to reopen Meigs Field over the following months, but because the airport was owned by the City of Chicago and had paid back its federal aviation grants, the courts ruled that Chicago was allowed to close the field. The FAA fined the city US$33,000 for closing an airport with a charted instrument approach without giving the required 30-day notice.
Northerly Island is a 91- acre peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan at the heart of the Museum Campus.The majority of this space is dedicated to nature! The nature area at Northerly Island features beautiful strolling paths, casual play areas and a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. It is also home to some of the best fishing in Chicago.