This is a picture of Cornell Drive from the early 1900’s as it was planned for by Olmsted and Vaux. It was meant to be a carriage way and service road ringing the Exposition hold-over building, the Field Columbian Museum (now Museum of Science & Industry). Olmsted was likely one of the first landscape architects to design exterior landscapes for specific purposes, much as rooms of a house are designed. He specifically designed and landscaped the area around the Field Columbian Museum as a building site to emphasize the “architectural harmony” of the Museum building and its surroundings including “plantations, waters, roads, and walks near it.”
We give kudos to the OPC design team for understanding and building upon Olmsted’s site language, clustering buildings and not creating a wholly new building site in the park. Their design of the campus area and track replacement similarly echo the design purposes of Olmsted’s plans in an area most damaged by change over the years.
Right now the OPC site is a severed appendage cut off from the rest of the park by “Cornell Highway”, a thoroughfare with posted speed limit 30 MPH but where cars routinely drive 55-75 MPH. The closing of Cornell Drive offers the opportunity to reunify the western perimeter with the rest of the park and re-create the attractive and safe carriage road for pedestrians and non-vehicular traffic. It will unify the lakefront bike and footpaths from South Shore through the Loop and to the North Side. In doing so, it helps mitigate, if not erase, one of the more terrible design errors that has marred Jackson Park since the 1960’s. See the proposed road way and infrastructure improvements and traffic study that will coordinate with the building of the OPC.
Videos of residents' experiences on Cornell.
Walking with a toddler close to speeding traffic on Cornell.
Traffic on Cornell, near 63rd/Hayes
Traffic on Cornell, near the Midway