Bridgeview Beach, 1942 (photo)

Children, and a few adults, enjoy Bridgeview Beach in 1942. (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Children, and a few adults, enjoy Bridgeview Beach in 1942. (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Beaches at Lake Springfield were segregated until 1952. The Lake Springfield Beach, near Lindsay Bridge, was open only to whites. African-Americans were restricted to using Bridgevew Beach, which was on the south side of the lake.

Utilities Com. John Hunter ended segregation of the lake beaches in the summer of 1952 “under pressure by the N.A.A.C.P., and a committee of religious and civic leaders,” the Illinois State Journal reported that November.

The city of Springfield closed Bridgeview Beach in the early 1970s, but the former segregation of city beaches was one of the factors cited when a federal judge overruled Springfield’s commission form of city government.

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7 Responses to Bridgeview Beach, 1942 (photo)

  1. Thank you for describing and providing a photograph of a part of Springfield’s past that remains unknown to far too many of us. If you read the account of the white race riot against our East Side black neighbors, as written by William English Wallings in The Independent (1908) you are left wondering what kind of city we are. Again, thank you.

    • L. Price says:

      Were I hope, not are, or at least improving from that time. I lived just down the road from Bridgeview, in the summer, we swam there in the 60’s.

  2. editor says:

    Thanks, Nick, and good to hear from you. (Saw your brother Tuesday at the Lincoln Tomb, by the way.)

    FYI: There’s a hyperlink to the Walling article in SangamonLink’s entry on the race riot. See the “More information” section of Race riot of 1908.

    Mike Kienzler

  3. Bob says:

    Had a profound experience at Bridgeview, summer, 1966. My father was running for political office and had a meeting with an African-American group there, though it was then probably a ‘Negro’ group then. A Sunday afternoon, I was the only kid around, he said ‘will you go to lake Springfield with me?’ I remember on the way there he said, “It is quite likely we will be the only white people there. Ok? Let me tell you now that black people are like white people in every respect, understand? Deserving of your respect, always.” Ok dad, no prob. I was seven years old. I remember fishing with an old man while dad talked to the group and the old boy made me a bologna sandwich. God bless the memory of Bill Cavanagh, Sr. I learned never to talk down to kids fearing they will not understand. I applied his lessons in basic human decency and human dignity in raising my own kids and they are out there now, they make me proud, they would make any parent proud. Thank you, Dad.

  4. Jean Richards says:

    What’s the source for this? I remember trying to find out about this when I was in high school, but no luck. Of course, that was a hundred years ago. Thanks Mike.

    • editor says:

      Jean: This is based on single newspaper story from November 1952. It gave the credit for eliminating Lake Springfield beach segregation to Utilities Com. John Hunter. I’m sending you the clip via email. Thaks for reading.

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