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A Post On The Oddities of Place - UPDATED

I thought it might be fun to challenge our readers with the following photo, taken recently with my daughters and their cousins (faces edited out to protect the innocent).


Where in the world was this taken?

For those of you who know me well enough, I suspect you avoided answering, otherwise you'd know that I love to show off my home city of Chicago too much for this picture not to have been taken there!

I was kind of hoping that most guesses would be thinking of a place in the "country" famous for limestone bluffs; hence Tony, DmL, and Beth all guessed as I suspected.

However, the mysterious "1dep" was close -- he must have figured out (maybe from the title of the post) that I was misleading everyone and wanted to spring a surprise that such a place could exist in Chicago. The picture was taken at Palmisano Park, which is not in Ravenswood (which is northwest of downtown), but actually about two miles southwest of the downtown area:

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Palmisano Park is actually an old quarry that was then used as a landfill and eventually turned into the park you see in the picture. Here is a nice shot of the pier that the girls are standing on from above:


And here is a shot from atop the hill that was created from landfill which now affords great views of the city:


I'll leave you all with the Chicago Park District's write up of the park, found on their website:

In 2009, this park was one of Chicago's newest and most interesting green spaces, opened in the Bridgeport neighborhood. After convening community meetings to determine the needs of local residents, the Chicago Park District hired Site Design Group to develop a plan for the park. The environmentally-sustainable design was inspired by the natural history of the site. This is the site of an ancient coral reef dating back to the Silurian age 400 million years ago. Dolomite limestone formed, and fossils that were found here are now in the collections of several area museums including Field Museum of Natural History. In the late 1830s, the land was purchased by the Illinois Stone and Lime Company which began quarry operations. Within a short time, one of its partners, Marcus Cicero Stearns took over and renamed the quarry. Stearns was an early Chicago settler who got his start by opening a supply store for workmen who blasted out rock to build the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Even after Stearns died in 1890, the quarry continued operating under his name until 1970. For the next few decades, the site was used as a landfill for clean construction debris. After the dumping ended, the idea of transforming the site into a new park emerged. The new park would be especially important because the surrounding Bridgeport neighborhood had long suffered from a lack of adequate green space. Today, visitors to Palmisano Park can go fishing in a pond that retains old quarry walls; stroll along a wetland area that drains into the pond; watch for birds and other wildlife attracted by the site's vast range of native plants; fly kites in an open meadow; or take in the views of the cityscape. Chicago Park District Project Manager Claudine Malik explains: “The Stearns Quarry of today has certainly come a long way from the days of a limestone quarry. The vibrant, active park is a welcome respite from city life, an educational opportunity, a place for recreation and a prime example of what creative thinking can accomplish and yet the memory of the quarry and its lasting historic legacy remain inextricably a part of the park.”

Chicago is full of off the beaten path treasures like this park and I'm glad I can share them with our readers. For all its many faults, I still think this is a great city!

Comments (14)


Somewhere in the temperate band. If the date is trustworthy, I would say that the place must be in the northern hemisphere.

It seems less likely that you were travelling abroad with your daughters AND their cousins, though perhaps it was a family reunion overseas. Even so, say it was in North America.

The level of color in the leaves in the background suggests that it was taken not very far north in the temperate zone, say that excludes Canada. Yet, there is a fair amount of apparently deciduous growth, so say it isn't in Florida or the southern tip of CA. Yet places like PA, CO, MT, MI, ID, and other more "northern" states would generally have fewer leaves at the time of that date.

That narrows it down to a band of the "middling" states that many people refer to as the "Bible belt". It looks a lot like what I have seen around SC in the last couple weeks.

Am I warm or cold?


I have to admit, for some reason that comment gave me a laugh.

Mr. Fosi,

You are getting warm, but I'll give you a hint. My brother lives in Florida and he was visiting me that weekend. I live in the Midwest.

I was going to suggest Arkansas or southern Missouri.

Looks like the foothills of a plateau, so maybe the Ozarks.

What's that grating they're sitting on? What's that light-gray strip behind them? I'll take a crazy guess: the photo was taken indoors, in a museum or something.

Oops, I take back my crazy guess - didn't notice the shadows at first.

It's easy enough for other people to figure out that I live in Michigan, so I might as well say that the trees here were a lot more colorful than that by October 20 this year. Hence I understand Mr. Fosi's guess that the picture must be somewhere further south.

The midwest is a big place.

The southern tip of either Illinois or Indiana?

I'm guessing Missouri.

Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago by the North Branch of the Chicago River. Tough guy.

Hah! Fooled me, but good. Nice place for a city park.

Are those photos really from 10/20? I live five or ten miles from there, and around here the trees looked a lot more autumnal two weeks ago.


That date is accurate. I suspect that the trees are somehow affected by the quarry's limestone and/or unique location at the bottom of that pit-like area. I have also noticed trees staying green longer than normal as a result of the lower precipitation we had in the Chicago area this year.

No more tricks up my sleeve -- I promise.

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