Smile Politely

Year of the Park A to Z: Beardsley Park — Champaign

As Year of the Park continues, we will be documenting every park in Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy, Champaign County Forest Preserves, along with other odds and ends between July 2020 and July 2021. You can see what has been covered thus far by clicking here. If you have suggestions or ideas or feedback, feel free to contact us at [email protected].


Beardsley Park 


1006 N. Walnut St, Champaign, IL 61822


In 2024, about the time Kamala Harris is running for her first full term as President of the United States of America, here in Champaign, Beardsley Park will be celebrating its 150th anniversary of being a park in this area.

A portrait of George F. Beardsley wearing a lond grey beard

That’s a long time in human years, I think, but just a blip in the history of the world, when you take mushrooms and think about it for a long time. 

It was donated to the City of Champaign early on by a man named George F. Beardsley, who led a very long life: first in Ohio, and then in Champaign, where it seems as though he ran the insurance game in town, got into the hotel business, and wrecked shop in real estate front to back, all the way until he died. I mean, let’s take a look at his photo while you are here, since he looks like the most stately white dude you have ever seen.

Anyhow, it appears as though this man made a pretty decent life for himself at the dawn of Champaign’s existence, and at some point, offered up a 1.9 acre plot of land for the city to use as a park. And for this we are very grateful! 

According to a article from a few years back, the park recently underwent two phases of updates and modifications. Like Ms. Harrington, the author of that article, I am also impressed with and enjoy the color scheme of the playground equipment. To my knowledge, there’s not another one like it. 

blue, red, and lime green playground equipment in beardsley park

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

A diagonal walking path cuts through the park, and on either side there are grills with picnic benches and a basketball court, which is known to draw some of the best pick up games in the summer. Don’t bring your weak ass jump shot to this game though; it’ll get swatted. 

an old tree in a park

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


 For me, the old growth trees in this park really make the place worth your time. Indeed, it is a very very old park, and you can sort of feel that history inside of it when you are there.

old growth trees line the walkway of beardsley park

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

And the playground is a favorite for my children, as they love the colors and the variety of equipment available to kids ages 2-10, primarily. All in all, Beardsley Park is a nice neighborhood spot, and is definitely worth the effort. 

Top image by Maddie Rice. Photo of George F. Beardsley from

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