Chicago’s Gateway Green Celebrates 25 Years

By Ginger Zee
|  Friday, Jul 29, 2011  |  Updated 10:42 PM CDT
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The signs subtly line Chicago's expressways, giving them a signature look.

The signs subtly line Chicago's expressways, giving them a signature look. "Gateway Green" is celebrating 25 years of making Chicago beautiful.

The signs subtly line Chicago’s expressways. The greenery is a signature of this great city. The Gateway to the City now celebrating 25 years of Don DePorter’s dream: Gateway Green.

Grant DePorter, Don DePorter’s son tells the story of how Gateway Green came to fruition:

"My father founded Gateway Green in 1986. My dad was in the Hyatt Hotels business so when I was a kid we moved around a lot. After opening the Hyatt O’Hare in 1969 we moved to California for about eight years. When we came back to Chicago we were coming in from the airport me and my sister are looking around and the highway was all muddy, covered with graffiti, litter everywhere, we instantly said dad, what are we doing here?”

Don DePorter agreed with his kids. What was Chicago doing? This was an impression he did not want his city to make. So he founded Gateway Green.

"He grew up in Seattle, so pine trees everywhere and forests. That's what Chicago needed to do; embrace trees and get involved in the environment just beautify everything and have a lot of civic pride," explained DePorter.

Civic pride was achieved as city and state leaders backed DePorter’s idea and what was to be called "The Richard J. Daley Gateway to the City became the "Don DePorter Gateway to the City at Orleans, Ohio and Ontario."

"My dad ended up getting cancer and passed away in 1996 he had been working on it for six years. The mayor dedicated it to him and he died five days before the August 9 dedication. I take my kids by it all the time and say, 'There is Grandpa Don's park.'"

DePorter is proud of his father’s legacy but knows there is so much more that can be done.

"We have 106 gardens covering 90 acres.  Really, when you look at the Kennedy and Edens, there’s a lot more to go -- about 220 sites.  Then where do you stop? One person had the idea to take from Chicago to Springfield.  We are the model for the country so a lot of people come up here to look at what we are doing say how can we do that in our state?"

If you’d like to support Gateway Green, they have an upcoming Texas Hold’em style tournament at Galleria Marchetti on Aug. 4. Details on the event are posted at GatewayGreen.org.

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