The new Downtown Chicago apartments at NEMA offer residents chic, modern living in the heart of the Windy City. One of the building’s biggest attractions though is also its most public: Grant Park, often called Chicago’s “front yard," stretches out from the tower’s base. Keep reading to learn a little more about the past and present of this iconic lakefront park.

This public space on Lake Michigan in Downtown Chicago was known as Lake Park from its creation in 1847 until it was renamed in 1901 for Civil War general and 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. While the park was originally designated by the city government as “Public Ground - A Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear, and Free of Any Buildings or Other Obstruction, Whatever,” Grant Park was ultimately selected as the permanent location for the Art Institute of Chicago, which officially opened its now-iconic museum building in 1893. Today, the Art Institute maintains one of the nation’s most extensive collections of art and cultural artifacts from around the world and features exhibits like this year’s explorations of Rembrandt's portraits and the unique textile art of the Andes.

Not to be outdone by the Art Institute, Chicago millionaire Marshall Field paid for another cultural institution, the Field Museum, to be erected just south of Grant Park in 1915, and 15 years later, Max Adler, another Chicago businessman, built the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere nearby. Consequently, this stretch of lakefront has served as home to the city’s finest arts and science institutions for a century.

Grant Park and the surrounding area also continue to be an important heartbeat of Chicago’s music scene. This June, the park will host the 36th annual Chicago Blues Festival, a free weekend-long celebration of the city’s legendary musical heritage. This year, guests will celebrate frontman Jimmy Johnson’s 90th birthday with a concert by the Jimmy Johnson Blues Band, listen to the soul stylings of Don Bryant, and enjoy performances by American roots sister duo Larkin Poe and many others.

A month later, Grant Park will be home to the annual Taste of Chicago festival, which has been a highlight of every summer since its launch in 1980. Residents and visitors will enjoy the world’s largest food festival, complete with complimentary entertainment and music. In August, the park will hold Lollapalooza for the 14th year in a row. This hip music festival was started in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell and found its home in Grant Park in 2005, where it quickly became one of the nation’s most celebrated musical gatherings.

While your luxury home gives you every elegant incentive to appreciate your life within NEMA Chicago, Grant Park invites you to fully experience the exciting city that is at your doorstep.