By permission and courtesy of the Chicago Park District Special Collections.  April 28, 1874: The Condemnation of 712 cemetery lots to incorporate the grounds into Lincoln Park

The last record in the Common Council files involving the City Cemetery is the April 1871 report from the Lincoln Park Commissioners, detailing their expenses since they assumed control of the grounds in 1869. The commissioners did not have enough money to improve the park grounds, except to continue the construction of the new Lake Shore Drive.

After the Chicago Fire of October 1871, the cemetery is not mentioned again in the Lincoln Park Commissioners Proceedings until October 1872. An item on the 29th of that month records the resolution to remove the vault and the chapel from the cemetery grounds.

The Old Cemetery appears again in the proceedings on April 28, 1874. The image, left, represents two pages from that date's entry. This is a list of the cemetery lots the commissioners condemned to incorporate their area into the park grounds.

These numbers represent the cemetery lots that had not yet been evacuated. Continuing from the previous page, which began the list with lot numbers from the Old Survey, the left page here then lists the Vault Lots, followed by lots from the New Survey. On the right page, the list continues with Block 1, and ends with Block 2. (See the Mapping the Cemetery section for information about these land surveys.)

After the last number, this text ends the writing on the page:
"in the New Survey in the plat of Chicago Cemetery as laid out and recorded in the office of the Board of Public Works in the City of Chicago and in the office of the recorder of Deeds of Cook County, the said Cemetery being a subdivision of a part of S.E. 1/4 of Sec. thirty three (33) Township Forty (40) N. Range Fourteen (14) East and all other lands and lots belonging to private individuals ought to be obtained by condemnation in pursuance of the provisions of law for the purpose of enlarging and improving Lincoln Park.
     Resolved that the Supervisor and Assessor of the Town of North Chicago be requested to take such action as may be necessary to condemn the land hereinbefore, described as belonging to private persons."

Each lot number, until the time of the Block 1 survey, covered an area of nine by twenty-four feet. Thereafter, the lots measured nine by twelve feet. These two lot sizes could hold eight and four bodies, respectively. It is possible that there are no graves in some of these lots. It is also possible that a lot number can represent eight sets of remains. The 712 lots represented by these numbers do not include the many thousands of individuals still buried in the potter's field. The disinterments from the potter's field began in September 1872

Owners of condemned cemetery lots were offered 20¢ per square foot of land, amounting to $43.20 for a 9x24 foot lot. Settlements and disinterments continued until 1895. See some records of disinterments here.

Pamela Bannos © 2021