Piece by large piece, the painstaking process of dismantling a 25-foot tall spiral slide got underway early Tuesday at Maggie Daley Park in downtown Chicago.
The Tower Slide, the subject of controversy due to a steady stream of reported injuries and some lawsuits, is coming down. The Chicago Park District says the decision was made “out of an abundance caution,” though it maintains the slide was safe when used as intended.
The hard-to-miss attraction was fun for some parkgoers but excruciating for others. It’s been the focus of NBC5 Responds reports since 2015, when claims of injuries at the park and specifically, on the Tower Slide, started coming in.
The Responds team’s Freedom of Information Act request revealed a steady stream of emergency calls from Maggie Daley Park, and lawsuits soon followed.
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In 2019, the Chicago Park District told NBC5 it increased signage surrounding the Tower Slide, and said injuries were the result of “obvious misuse.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney Jason Gatzulis represents some of those injured dismissed that assertion, saying the statement was effectively “blaming the victim.”
"The park district did a good job. They made sure that when injuries came in, it was being reported. Where the mess-up was, or where they failed, is what they did with that information,” Gatzulis told NBC5 Responds. “They failed to see that-- what was in front of them, which was there was a piece of park equipment, the Tower Slide, that was consistently causing serious injuries to both kids and adults who are going down that slide.”
Plaintiffs’ experts blame the overall design of the slide for many of the injuries, especially the tight right turn that follows a nine-foot drop.
After NBC5 Responds first reported the City’s decision to remove the slide, we got more than 500 comments on our Facebook page, many of them spirited. Parents shared their own horror stories and concerns connected to the slide, while others condemned the move as too extreme.
In the future, more sliding fun will be offered up at MDP: the city confirms it will install a new slide, but at publication time was not able to confirm when that will take place. In the meantime, the Tower Slide is not a relic just yet. It will be stored in a Chicago warehouse, until the lawsuits connected to it wind their way through the legal system.