"Grant Park has often been called Chicago’s front yard, and in its present guise it is a showpiece. But that wasn’t always the case. In the late 1800s it was a swampy wasteland littered with debris from the fire and shacks filled with bums. Meanwhile, developers who understood its potential began planning numerous developments there. Into the midst of this mess came Montgomery Ward, who was angered at what he saw from his office at 6 N. Michigan Ave. and fought to preserve, as the line in the city’s charter said, the lakefront “forever free, open and clear.” For two decades he took on the unholy trinity of Chicago: greed, power and corruption, and despite constant vilification, he prevailed. What is now Grant Park got its name in 1901, and has been steadily improving ever since (with some time off in the 1970s when everything seemed to go to pot). Buckingham Fountain is one of the most magnificent in the world, and the nearby formal gardens are only getting better. At the south end, the Museum Campus has transformed what had been a car-clogged maze. Finally, despite controversy (see below), the urban wilderness of Northerly Island beckons those who want a respite from the crowded city."