Smile Politely

Year of the Park, A to Z: Crystal Lake Park, Urbana; Video Feature

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 more like this week! Oh yeah, is this the last park? Sort of! 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].


Crystal Lake Park  


206 W. Park St., Urbana


I’ve spent far too much of my life over the past year writing about these things. In this case, I will let the video above and the photos below do the talking for me. It’s really for the best, honestly. The only thing that talking too much has ever gotten me is in trouble, mostly. Neverthless! Here is Crystal Lake Park, what was once, and still really is, the crown jewel of parks in Urbana-Champaign. Yes, that is the way it was known, and despite what we call it now, we have to accept that our history dictates so much of what is present, and what is real. 

Here is the abridged history of Crystal Lake Park by the once again, venerable, Dana Mancuso. Worth the read. 

a very old staircase made from stone in the north part of Crystal Lake

Photo by Tim Bailey. 
Crystal Lake pool

Photo by Tim Bailey. 
a small creek runs through Crystal Lake

Photo by Tim Bailey. 

Screenshot by Seth Fein.

Sometimes, you flop quad aces. 

overhead picture of the Crystal Lake lakehouse and pond

Photo by Tim Bailey. 

That’s a little tiny taste of what Crystal Lake Park has to offer you. Those are just one of a thousand screenshots and pictures for your keppy. And space.

Space, for your memories. Space for you to consider what comes next. 


Space indeed! I so deeply love this space. I so deeply deeply love this space!

My greatest wish is that the Urbana Park District and the City of Urbana, together, as one agreeable and mutually accessible entity, would build an incredible plaza just south of Lincoln Square — like Parque México, or actually known as Parque San Martín, in Condesa that lies within the heart of Mexico City — and then find a smart way to connect it to Crystal Lake Park via walking / biking path.

That would mean building a bridge like no other for literally hundreds and hundreds of miles. Big one. You could even connect it to the Kickapoo Rail Trail. You could do so many things, my friends. 

Could we do it? Yes. We could do it. Should we do it? Yes. We should. We should do it!

Will it happen? This remains to be seen. Vision is everything. Leadership follows close behind. 

I remain deeply hopeful. 

Top image by Tim Bailey. 


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