For more than 120 years, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Horticultural Society have been partners in helping the city fulfill the guiding vision established by its official Latin motto, Urbs in Horto—a city in a garden.
The inception of the Society, founded in 1890 as the Horticultural Society of Chicago, coincided with citywide preparations for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Records archived by the Chicago Botanic Garden lack details on the Society’s first flower show, but the second show was held at the Regiment Armory in 1892. The Society hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition Chrysanthemum Show at the newly opened Art Institute of Chicago in 1893.
Early members of the Society include those whose names are deeply rooted in Chicago history: Buckingham, Hutchinson, McCormick, Palmer, and Wacker, to name a few. Many early Society members also served on the Art Institute’s board of directors, and flower shows were again held at the museum from 1911 to 1913. The Society, in partnership with the Chicago Park District, spearheaded 15,000 victory gardens on vacant property in a diverse range of neighborhoods—from the South Side of Chicago, along the Gold Coast, to suburbs of the North Shore.
Today the Society continues to host flower shows and plant sales. It now also manages the Chicago Botanic Garden, a role the Society adopted in 1962 when it developed a new public garden on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The Garden opened in 1972, and last year welcomed more than 900,000 people from around the world who were inspired by our 24 display gardens, four natural areas, and dynamic program of events. During the last 39 years we also have become the nation’s finest teaching garden; built a plant science center to address the ecological challenges or our time; and developed community programs that serve the needs of residents of all ages and economic backgrounds in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.
The Garden is proud of the role it continues to play in Chicago. What began as a vision of the city’s future is today a reality: Chicago—home to more rooftop gardens than any other city in the country and one of the great public gardens of the world—is a city in a garden. I look forward to working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and welcoming him and his family to the Garden.
The summer issue of Keep Growing, which now covers May through August, will arrive in homes soon. In this issue you will find information on A Bloomin’ Festival, World Environment Day, Summer Evenings, and all the wonderful programs, events, and classes I know you won’t want to miss this summer at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
With deep appreciation,
President & CEO
Chicago Botanic Garden