The 385-acre Garden features 23 display gardens and three native habitats, uniquely situated on nine islands surrounded by lakes.
The Chicago Horticultural Society was founded in 1890. At its heart was the understanding that the city of Chicago was incorporated with the Latin words Urbs in Horto, meaning "city in a garden". The Society hosted nationally recognized flower and horticultural shows and supported Chicago's lakeshore improvements and park system.
After a period of inactivity, the Chicago Horticultural society was restarted in 1943. In 1963, the Chicago Horticultural Society was granted 300 acres of forest on the outskirts of the city, and the Chicago Botanic Garden established roots. With the groundbreaking for the Garden in 1965 and its opening in 1972, the Society created a permanent site on which to carry out its mission. The mission encompasses three important components: collections, education and research.
From its founding, the Garden has hired leading architects, beginning with the master plan by John O. Simonds and Geoffrey Rausch. Edward Larabee Barnes designed the Education Center as the Garden's first building in 1977. The Malott Japanese Garden, Sansho-En, was completed in 1982. Throughout its existence, the Chicago Botanic Garden has developed gardens and educational facilities with a meticulous eye toward its original mission.