Washington Square Park

Near North
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This leafy, 3-acre park is surrounded and crisscrossed by sidewalks. It's popular with brown-bag lunchers and there are occasional concerts and programs mostly organized by the neighboring Newberry Library, but its history is much more colorful. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries the place became notorious as 'Bughouse Square' because opinionated bohemians from local boarding houses and cheap hotels (later replaced by high-rises) used it as a stage to expound radical views in front of not-always-sympathetic audiences. In a romantic gesture to the right of free speech, the park is officially designated by the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago as a public forum.