Waves splash onto rocks, pooling into crevices that small groups of masked people jump over as they walk along the water. Further from the waterline, the rocks form stairs that hug the side of a large green field. Families walk along paths laughing together and individuals sit on benches reading. Without the sound of the busy street just beyond the trees, it’s hard to imagine that this subdued scene of the Promontory Point is located in the heart of Hyde Park.
The Promontory Point provides a safe outdoor location for Chicago residents to visit with friends during the coronavirus Pandemic.
For many people, the Point provides a feeling of nostalgia that can anchor long-time park visitors to life before the pandemic. The park has become a safe space for Chicago residents, including U-High students, to see friends or take part in organized activities.
“I feel so much safer when I’m at the Point. People aren’t crowded together and, for the most part, everyone wears masks,” Hyde Park resident Marisa Jones said. “In other parks or hangout spots, people have come out for a quick walk and aren’t masked up. When I’m up here, I know everyone else came here to be safe.”
Marisa’s sentiment is shared by other visitors of the Promontory Point who appreciate the room for visitors to spread out and avoid contact.
“You can always find little hidden spots where you can be away from people and still have room to spread out and social distance from your friends,” said Ana-Sofia Siegel, a U-High senior.
Other park-goers come to the Promontory Point to reminisce on the past. Many visitors have enjoyed Promontory Point since its creation in the 1930s, and some have visited for decades.
“We used to live in Hyde Park, almost 40 years. We’ve seen the park change and grow, now we moved away, and we still love going here.” Mr. Czerwinski, a former Hyde Park resident said.
Lab students also have memories of the Promontory Point, Ana-Sofia goes out with her friends and siblings now but still fondly remembers spending time with her parents at the Promontory Point when she was younger.
“I’ve been going to the Point for years, I remember when I was little going on walks with my dad or rollerblading with my mom,” Ana-Sofia said. “The Point is beautiful, it’s given me so many great memories.”
Lynn Ingalls, a Lab middle school teacher and coach, has been holding makeshift cross country practice at the Promontory Point, despite the cancellation of the season.
“We’re not allowed to kind of have our regular season for the middle school so the parents got together with me and asked me,” Coach Ingalls said. “So some of these kids are privately doing this.”
The Promontory Point has always been a great resource for the Chicago community, but its benefits have been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. Groups of friends who haven’t seen each other for months have started coming together to participate in socially-distanced activities.
“We’ve started coming every Saturday to do yoga by the water,” Joana Michael, a Hyde Park resident said.
“It’s been really great, I missed seeing all my ladies!” Alissa Toms, a Chicago resident and yoga enthusiast said. “Now we can come up here, put mats six feet apart and exercise.”
This story was originally published on U-High Midway on October 9, 2020.