Mahalia Jackson Pop Court 1

Mahalia Jackson Pop! Court

Chicago, Illinois

Photography: Colin Boyle, Chicago Block Club

Photography: Krueck Sexton Partners

The Mahalia Jackson Pop! Court emerged from the sheer determination of community, government, and the private sector, to do something significant together. The concept for a park that celebrates the rich history of the neighborhood came from The Greater Chatham Initiative. They wanted to flip the script on the status quo, believing that people should live in beautiful environments created by local artists and craftspeople. The goal was to immerse the young people of Chatham in an environment that connects them to their rich cultural history.

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The KSP-led design in partnership with the Greater Chatham Initiative began with the City of Chicago Public Outdoor Plaza (POP!) program, which is designed to help community-based organizations revitalize underutilized land along neighborhood retail corridors.

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Local contractors, craftsmen, and twenty local artists were pivotal in realizing the park, serving as a testament to Chatham’s resilience. The project hosts mural arts, a covered café, stage and bandshell, children’s garden, food truck court, and sculptures among a grid of trees that promise a future of shade in the park.

The former asphalt lot has contributed to a 208% increase in foot traffic and created an amenity that celebrates Chatham’s history and its deep cultural foundation.

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Watch the Emmy award-winning Making of Mahalia Jackson Pop! Court mini-documentary to learn more.


"On behalf of the Greater Chatham Initiative, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to KSP's role in brining Mahalia Jackson Pop! Court to life. Foot traffic in the area has nearly doubled compared to one-year earlier, and crime has decreased 13%. The plaza has been a catalyst for change, and Krueck Sexton Partners played an essential role in making it a reality."

Nedra Sims Fears
Executive Director, Greater Chatham Initiative