Innovative Projects

Winthrop Family Historical Garden

The Winthrop Family Historical Garden was established in the Uptown neighborhood by NeighborSpace in 2009 to celebrate the families who helped found Uptown’s rich cultural diversity while also providing a greatly needed open green space in one of Chicago’s most densely populated neighborhoods.

In the mid-2000s, through community engagement efforts, the idea of transforming several vacant parcels of land into a community greenspace on the narrow 4600 block of Winthrop took shape and a new garden was dedicated in the fall of 2009 thanks to the leadership of Uptown United and several other local leaders and volunteers. Twenty years later, the garden had become overgrown and was not serving the community in the way it was originally intended. Made possible through city grant funding, Uptown United was able to oversee a complete garden renovation to better align with current community needs.

The design/contracting team, MKSK and Human Scale collaborated with Uptown United to reimagine and reconstruct the Winthrop Garden over five months. With a tight implementation schedule, the biggest challenge was designing, sourcing and installing the garden during a volatile, post-pandemic construction season where materials were scarce and finding labor was difficult. Through dedication and careful coordination, the design/contracting team was able to work together to achieve a built product over an expedited timeframe.

Now complete, the design has re-established the garden as a vibrant outdoor open space for gardening demonstrations, markets, neighborhood events and more, all while sharing the rich history of the Winthrop Avenue families within the Uptown neighborhood. The garden reopened in the fall of 2022, and Uptown United looks forward to utilizing the space for a wide range of community programming.

Project Details

MKSK and Uptown United

MKSK (on behalf of Uptown United)


Public Space Management and Operations
$600001 - $1000000