This 1897 Illinois Supreme Court Decision resolved the dispute of what could be built in the 310 foot width of Lake Park from Randolph to Park Row (11th). That was the land that had been filled-in over many years, out to the railroad right-of-way, and was finally completed with the debris of the Chicago fire in 1871. The Art Institute was not proposed when Ward filed his original complaint in 1890. Ward intentionally left out the Art Institute (that was started in 1891) from his 1893 and 1896 amended complaints. However, because the Art Institute was concerned about any monetary liability based on Section 43 of the 1863 Chicago Charter, they obtained the written consent from the 15 abutting property owners on the west side of Michigan Avenue.
Because the 1897 decision only applied to the land west of the railroad easement, a new lawsuit was filed by Ward to prevent an armory and other obstructions from being built east of the railroad easement.
An attempt was then made to justify the Field Museum "building" by the Illinois legislature passing a specific statute approving the museum in Grant Park. The 3rd Illinois Supreme Court decision ruled that no buildings were allowed under the dedication covenant restrictions, even if it was a museum. 
The South Park Commissioners then filed a lawsuit claiming the right of eminent domain trumped a land covenant dedication restriction. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Ward's favor for the 4th time, and declared that the power of eminent domain could not be used for the illegal purpose of violating the land covenant dedication restrictions.
Ward died in 1913, and before he died he reportedly regretted not challenging the Art Institute in 1891 based on the dedication restrictions. Both the Art Institute (1891) and the Pritzker/Harris building (1999) were approved on the less restrictive Charter Protections of 1861 and 1863.
This 1970 Illinois Supreme Court decision revisited some of the arguments of the earlier Ward decisions, and decided that dedication restrictions created by state statute can be changed by state statute, or by an agency created by the state. That is contrary to the unique original dedication restrictions placed upon the original plat of Grant Park land, that cannot be changed by a statute of the Illinois Legislature, according to the Illinois Supreme Court decisions above.
Illinois Supreme Court Decisions  
These files are provided for Chicago citizens to study and learn about the court decisions affecting the Children's Museum desire to move to the protected land of Grant Park. Further study available from 2003 at 

Also, for Chicago's plans to build a dense marina in the north end of Monroe Harbor after the 2016 Olympics,  these Illinois Supreme court decisions will help maintain Grant Park's open water vistas.
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This page was last updated: December 11, 2019
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Disclaimer - The 5 Illinois Supreme Court Decisions that are presented on this website were obtained from very poor quality PDF files, then scanned using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, and converted to a DOC file for inputing into HTML by the Homestead Software. Because of the historical poor quality of repeated copying, after the OCR conversion, several hundred errors were proofread and corrected. Therefore, there could be minor errors in this presentation. I certify that there are no major errors that would change the interpertation of these decisions.
                                                 Richard F. Ward, December, 2007 - Website Administrator
This 1897 magazine graphic shows the proposed Field Museum where Buckingham Fountain was eventually built in 1927. The 1909 Illinois Supreme Court decision rejected this site for the Field Museum based on the Covenant Dedication Restrictions of 1836.  
This proposed Armory (on the future Daley Bicentennial Plaza site) was rejected by the Illinois Supreme Court decision of 1902 and Covenant Dedication Restrictions of 1836.

Even after the 1902 Illinois Supreme Court decision, this site has been the target of many "worthy projects" in the last 105 years. All have failed, and the Children's Museum will certainly be added to that litany of failed worthy projects.  
The Art Institute was approved in 1891 based on the 1863 Charter Protections and consent of 15 abutting owners.
The Art Institute was NOT chalenged by Mont.Ward, based on the "dedication restrictions", or it would not be here in 2008.  Same for the Harris/Pritzker "building". CCM will not be as fortunate.
Future site of Millennium Park
Lake Shore Drive ->
<----Michigan Avenue
Proposed Field Museum 
Original Art Institute
       Proposed Armory
(Future Daley Bicentennial Plaza)
Illinois Central Railroad
Proposed string of 5 Islands
 Only Northerly Island built ----->
Proposed Parade Grounds
      (Future Butler Field)
Proposed Exposition Building---------> 
        Later rejected on 
        protected land.
The "Worthy Projects" Planned for Grant Park in 1897
These 2 online files of the April 3, 1897 Harpers Weekly Magazine article provide a prospective on the development of Grant Park. Also study the drawing from the foot of VanBuren St. looking south along the breakwater just east of the tracks.

Because the Art Institute was NOT CHALLENGED, it has expanded an amazing 7 times since 1891.
This was a "friendly lawsuit" to satisfy the persons that would purchase the bonds for the first underground Grant Park North Garage. It was determined that a COMPLETELY underground garage would not violate the dedications restrictions of Grant Park land, and that a garage was NECESSARY to fulfill a park purpose. The Children's Museum folks are trying to tag onto that approval with a PARTIALLY underground building that is NOT NECESSARY to fulfill a park purpose.
After several additions to the Art Institute, they were finally challenged, and were allowed to expand again amazingly because the complaint did not claim the expansion was unnecessary. And the court assumed that original adjacent owners intended for the Art Institute to expand in proportion to the growth of Chicago when they gave their consents, even though the consents were not found at that time.
When the U.S. Secretary of War moved the "harbor line" further east, the Chicago Yacht Club was challenged to prevent them from moving their existing building to just east of the new harbor line to avoid the restrictions of Grant Park.

Added June, 2008
Added June, 2008
Added June, 2008
During the 2016 discussions of the Lucas Museum proposal to build on the current parking lot of Soldiers Field, the Origin of the Public Trust Doctrine came back into focus.  A Marquette Law School faculty paper provided excellent background that related also to the Supreme Court Decisions on the Grant Park 1836 and 1839 dedication restrictions. 
Copyright 2011 by Northwestern University School of Law Printed in U.S.A.
Northwestern University Law Review Vol. 105, No. 4
Joseph D. Kearney*
 & Thomas W. Merrill**