The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is the oldest and largest urban forest preserve district in the United States. Founded in 1914 and comprising more than 68,000 acres, the District has owned the land on which the Chicago Botanic Garden is built for more than 50 years. The mission of the District is as important today as it was at its inception: To protect and preserve the flora, fauna, and scenic beauty within the district, and to restore, protect, and preserve the natural forest.
In 1962, visions of a public garden in Chicago evolved when the District and the Chicago Horticultural Society (founded in 1890) formed a novel public-private partnership. Together, the two organizations transformed 385 acres of severely degraded wetlands and forest owned by the District into a garden operated by the Society. The dream came to life in 1972 when the Chicago Botanic Garden opened. Today, in addition to offering 900,000 visitors a year one of the great gardens of the world at the northern edge of Cook County, the Garden operates eight urban farm/jobs-training program sites in downtown Chicago communities, as well as one in Lake County.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is proud to be one of the treasures of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Together, we provide pleasure, recreation, and education; are stewards of unique public lands; and are committed to increasing access to the transformative power of nature. Moreover, through preservation and conservation, together we strive to leave our children, and our children’s children, a thriving, healthy ecosystem.
I look forward to working with newly inaugurated Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, as well as with newly appointed Forest Preserve District General Superintendent Arnold Randall, and Deputy Superintendent Mary Laraia, as we continue to fulfill historic missions and pursue new dreams.
And, as always, I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming President’s Circle events. In addition to fostering camaraderie, the events we share help the Chicago Botanic Garden, the many audiences the Garden serves—and each one of us—to keep growing.
All the best,
President & CEO
Chicago Botanic Garden