The Morton Arboretum is no stranger to the juxtaposition of nature and suburban development. Founded in 1922 in Lisle, the Arboretum later adjusted to the construction and opening of the East-West Tollway (now I-88) on its edges:
Construction of the East-West Tollway and widening of Illinois Route 53 changed the Arboretum landscape, resulting in new lakes, roads, and a staffed gatehouse.
In a recent popular exhibit, the Arboretum even leaned into the nearby development with one installment looming over the highway:
Note the large power lines, the evidence of two major highways nearby (I-88 and I-355), and office buildings.
Recently, I drove around the east side of the property. This land has had a number of office and warehouse properties for years. This makes sense: the properties have access to multiple highways and there are plenty of residents/workers nearby.
However, I have noticed a more recent addition to this set of land uses: there is a parking lot just for Amazon trucks and vehicles. As far as I could see, there was no building next to the lot; just many spaces for vans and trucks. Looking at Google Maps, there is indeed a parking lot there among some other development and some undeveloped land. There is an Amazon facility nearby – one of many in the Chicago region – but it is not directly connected to the parking lot so drivers would have to exit to the main road and then turn back into the Amazon facility.
It is hard to completely escape development when in the Arboretum. Traffic noise can be heard, airplanes fly overhead, and houses and other signs of suburbia are visible from different vantage points. Yet, the presence of an Amazon parking lot reminded me of what nature is in the suburbs: present but often in-between roads, homes, and other buildings that speak to the ways that humans have and continue to transform natural features to their own particular suburban goals.