Never let it be said that Chicagoans aren’t tenacious.
More than 20 years after residents began their fight to save the stair-step limestone wall at Promontory Point on the south lakefront, the Point was declared an official Chicago Landmark during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
“Hurrah!” the Promontory Point Conservancy shared with supporters in a celebratory email. “We are one huge step forward in protecting and preserving Promontory Point and its historic limestone revetment.”
The landmark designation applies not only to the limestone revetment, but also the exterior elevations and rooflines of the Point’s pavilion, as well as the general landscape design, pathways, council rings and fountain.
Promontory Point, a manmade peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan off of DuSable Lake Shore Drive between 54th and 56th streets, was built between 1922 and 1939.
The fate of the limestone revetment became a point of contention in 2001 when the Army Corps of Engineers proposed replacing the rock with concrete as part of a shoreline protection project.
Fans of the limestone’s more natural aesthetic beat back that plan, but with the Army Corps once again reviewing the lakefront’s resiliency, concerns resurfaced about the rock’s future. A movement to landmark the Point quickly coalesced, pushed forward by the Promontory Point Conservancy and longtime champion Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward), who is retiring.
Though Promontory Point is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Chicago landmark status affords even greater protections, giving the Commission on Chicago Landmarks review authority over any work permits.
Landmarking also provides standards under which work should be undertaken at the Point, including an emphasis on preservation, restoration and rehabilitation over demolition and replacement, the conservancy said.
The limestone revetment is explicitly protected in the designation. I'm so glad this will not be replaced with bland concrete and steel! pic.twitter.com/hzetyBtmwf
— Eric Allix Rogers (@EricAllixRogers) April 19, 2023
Note: This article was published April 19 and updated with video April 21.