Tree removal OPC

Tree removal began at the Obama Presidential Center site on Sept. 1. 

Removal of trees from the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) site commenced Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Felled trees and stumps could be seen along the northern edge of the Jackson Park Women's Garden. Further south within the OPC footprint more trees had been cut, their stumps remaining in the ground.

Earlier in the week, trees in the OPC site had been marked with bands of different colors: blue, green and white. 

According to a contractor doing a survey of the trees on the site, the trees with green and blue bands were to be "repurposed" and those with white bands were to be removed without repurposing.

In response to a question about the repurposing of these trees, an Obama Foundation spokesperson wrote to the Herald that "The trees will be repurposed into playground equipment, furnishings, nurse logs to propagate site biology, or provided to local artists and artisans for work in and around Jackson Park." 

The contractor surveying the area said that among the trees on the OPC site before the cutting started, there were "a few" remaining from Olmsted's original landscaping of the area. He said that the Obama Foundation will attempt to save two of these large trees, which are located at the southern edge of the OPC footprint.

(5) comments

Sid Colton

From: Sid Colton

Date: Fri, Sep 3, 2021 at 1:51 PM

Subject: Your review of the U of Chicago sponsorship of the huge-alteration of Jackson Park for the Obama Presidential Center?

To: Paul Alivisatos

Friday September 3rd, 2021

Friday September 3rd, 2021

Dear President Alivasatos,

Congratulations on both being an Alumnus of the University of Chicago, and now its President. These are equally distinguished accomplishments!

- - -

Unfortunately, on your first day Wednesday September 1st, this story and the attached photograph appeared in the Hyde Park Herald:

Please be aware that The University of Chicago has been the sponsor for President Obama and his Obama Presidential Center, of this site in Jackson Park.

I and many other alumni, now ask that you use your new influence to pause the cutting down of trees, and the building-now-plans of the Obama Presidential Center ... at least until you are satisfied that the sponsorship of this particular site in Jackson Park, and the designs that are just now starting to be built there ... is something that The University of Chicago wants to be permanently associated with.

Thank you so much for looking into this.


Sid Colton

The College, Class of 1973

B.A.'89, Behavioral Science

Ross Petersen

This is just a tragedy.

Where was "Friends" of the Parks, and what did they do, to protect our Parks?

Shame on them. Shame on Obama.


Yes. The Center could have been designed to be much taller and have a much smaller footprint. They excuse the tree removal by saying they're going to plant just as many new trees as are being removed, but those little trees are going to take many decades until they can truly replace the trees removed. They should be planting at least twice as many new trees and some can be removed in twenty years or so.

Ross Petersen

They could have relocated this center to the other side of Stony Island Avenue - at the Midway. Site of the (former) Plaisance Hotel, lost to 'urban renewal'. Presently contains a parking lot. Build West, up to, over the Metra tracks. Instead, we see Jackson Park being bulldozed. Alternately, adjacent to Washington Park, along ML King Drive. So much land, outside the Park, but they insist on the Park.

An existing tree provides sixty times the benefit of a sapling. No way can you plant your way out of this.

Terence herlihy

FOTP received big money from Obama to leave him alone. They were aware of the huge presence of the bullies and tyrants that had the plan commission order us to spend $174 million destroying the parks roads and cutting 700 additional trees nowhere near the center. Chicago sucks.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.