How Buena Park Got Its Name

Buena Park owes its name to the affection that an 1850’s landowner had for his family home.  In the 1850’s James Wallis purchased fifty-three acres of land to build an estate for his family.

At the time of his purchase governmental boundaries were vastly different than our current arrangement. The city of Chicago’s northern boundary was near where Armitage Street currently exists. Wallis’ land was located in Lakeview.

Wallis’ property, located in the town of Lakeview, extended roughly from Irving Park to Montrose, and the lake to the eastern border of what is now Graceland Cemetery. Wallis’ 53-acre family plot encompassed the land upon which the St. Mary’s of Lake Catholic Church is currently situated.

Wallis built a large Greek Revival mansion on the site where the church currently stands. Wallis affectionately dubbed his mansion Buena, or Buena House. Later, the surrounding acreage became known as Buena Park.

As a side note: At the time Wallis bought his property, Broadway Avenue – then called Evanston Avenue – was a mere plank road.  As Chicago crept further north, Wallis began to develop his property, and in 1889 Lakeview was annexed to the city of Chicago.


Author: bikeuptown46

I am currently the Communications Director for the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters which represents 33,000 union men and women in three states who swing a hammer for a living. I publsih a magazine, a couple of email newsletters and two websites. I also do videos, webinars, advertisng and public relations. As an avid cyclist I ride a three-wheeled trike 5 to 6 days per week 52 weeks per year which adds up to between 5,000 and 6,000 miles year-round, including daily commutes along Chicago's lakefront ... polar vortexes included. I have never missed a day of work because of Chicago's weather. I am an activist who serves humanitarian and political causes: To advocate for the Sudanese in Illinois who have fled Southern Sudan and Darfur is one of my most rewarding experiences. I work with my son Sean on Sudan presentations at churches and community groups with my Sudanese friends on the problems facing them in Darfur, South Sudan and the United States. My son Sean and I work together on the Abolition Institute which seeks to end slavery in the west African nation of Mauritania. My photography chronicles Chicago's lakefront through my daily rides. My photo website is I just self-published my first photo-book on the history of my Chicago neighborhood: Sweet Home Buena Park. I live about one-half mile north of Wrigley Field in the Buena Park neighborhood.

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