Hyde Park remembers artist and advocate Nancy Hays

Left to right: Louise McCurry, Robin Kaufman, Gary Osserwaarde, Stephanie Franklin, Lauren Moltz, Jerry Levy, Kenny Newman, Frances Vandervoort and Joe Kelly dedicate the new Nancy Hays bridge in Jackson Park last Saturday. Marc Monaghan

Left to right: Louise McCurry, Robin Kaufman, Gary Osserwaarde, Stephanie Franklin, Lauren Moltz, Jerry Levy, Kenny Newman, Frances Vandervoort and Joe Kelly dedicate the new Nancy Hays bridge in Jackson Park last Saturday.
Marc Monaghan

By LINDSAY WELBERS
Staff Writer

Hyde Parkers marked the end of a three-year struggle on Saturday when they gathered to rename the north bridge to the Wooded Island in Jackson Park after Nancy Hays.

Hays was a Herald photographer, parks advocate and social activist, who made her career in Hyde Park until her death in May 2007.

Hays’ friends and members of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, which she helped to found, gathered at the bridge Saturday afternoon.

The Chicago Park District renamed the bridge after Hays last January. Signage went up earlier this month.

Hays came to Hyde Park in 1961, after a tour of Europe photographing refugee camps. Shortly thereafter she began advocating for the parks. When then-Mayor Richard J. Daley had plans to add more baseball diamonds to Farmers Field (now Kenwood Park) than the community had requested, Hays marched and began petitions to stop the plan.

In 1963 the city wanted to widen Lake Shore Drive, a plan that would have diverted the highway through Jackson Park. Hays was arrested for tying signage to trees protesting the destruction of the park. The city backed and down Hays would call that arrest the proudest moment of her career.

The north side of the Nancy C. Hays Memorial Bridge faces the Museum of Science and Industry and looks out on where Daley had planned to divert Lake Shore Drive.

“The bridge would have been gone had she not stopped it,” said Louise McCurry, president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council.

l.welbers@hpherald.com