I’ve always loved Oz Park, but it seems kind of random. Where did it get its name? Where did those Wizard of Oz character statues come from? Being the Chicago nerd that I am, I did some research and found out some very interesting facts for this week’s “Did You Know, Chicago?”.
L. Frank Baum, the creator of Oz, actually lived in various Chicago neighborhoods! Baum wrote for the “Evening Post,” and during this time he began writing children’s books. He published “the Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in 1900 and opened the play called “The Wizard of Oz” in Chicago in 1902.
For years, fans of the books would gather in what is now called Oz Park for an Oz festival to celebrate the book, the author and the movie. The park was officially named Oz Park in 1976.
The four sculptures that are found throughout the park – Dorothy and Toto, the Tinman, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow – were all created by Chicago artist John Kearney. The Tinman was the first to be installed, placed in the park in 1995. Dorothy and Toto was the last, created in 2007. The Tinman is made out of recycled automobile parts and the others are made of bronze.
Located in the park is a playground called “Dorothy’s Playlot.” Not only does this relate to the whole Oz theme, but it’s also named for its donor, Dorothy Melamerson. A retired local school teacher, her savings have paid for a number of park improvements in Lincoln Park.
A number of activities take place in Oz Park every year, including movie screenings throughout the summer.
Filed under: Did You Know, Chicago?
Tags: Baum Chicago, Chicago, Chicago events, Chicago Park District, Chicago Parks, Chicago Quirk, Chicago Wizard of Oz, Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, Dorothy Melamerson, Dorothy's Playground, Dorothy's Playlot, John Kearney, L. Frank Baum, Lincoln Park, Movies in the Park, Oz Park, Oz Park history, Scarecrow, The Tinman, Wizard of Oz