As its name suggests, River Park is located at the confluence of the Chicago River and its canal, creating a unique environment that attracts many of the wildlife species that often frequent different parts of the Chicago River. The Black-Crowned Night Heron and many varieties of fish (including the common carp and various types of sunfish) are some of the visitors that you can see if you visit River Park. At just under 30 acres, River Park is the largest of the six parks within the River Park District. In addition to the robust wildlife, the park has a lot to offer to Albany Park’s residents. With a cohesive set of biking and walking trails, recreational spaces, and a boathouse, River Park functions as an important community asset. In 1917, residents on the Northwest side of Chicago banded together to create the River Park District. The goal was to create outdoor recreation spaces that would raise surrounding property values. In order to realize their goal, the River Park District began purchasing land north of Argyle Ave, right near the confluence (or separation, depending on which direction you approach it from) of the Chicago River and the North Shore channel. While the process of acquiring land was not complete until 1922, the site now known as River Park was open to the public in 1920.
In 1926, Jacob L. Crane, Jr., an architect and a River Park District board member, designed a park layout meant to accommodate 40 acres of land. A modified version of Crane’s plan was used to landscape the park, and construction began the following year. Over the rest of the century, River Park saw updates and additions, including a new fieldhouse in 1929, a swimming pool in 1948, a bathhouse in 1970, and a boat launch in 1999.