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The Chicago Riverwalk will soon feature floating garden islands

Written by
Sara Freund

Down below the hustle and bustle is a Chicago Riverwalk paradise that features a tiki-themed bar, fabulous architectural boat tours, a winery, spots to sit by the river’s edge and plenty more.

But just a few years back, the riverfront was, at best, grungy. Slowly but surely the city executed former Mayor Richard Daley’s vision, which was developed during the 1990's. Now we’re just months away from the completion of the last three blocks of the Chicago Riverwalk, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The riverwalk is the work of Sasaki Associates (landscape architect) and Ross Barney Architects (lead design architects), who have collaborated with other architects and engineers to make the gorgeous Riverwalk a reality. Each of the six blocks from the lakefront west to Lake Street has a purpose. Work is already done on the Marina Plaza, the Cove and the River Theater.

After construction finishes up later this year, we’ll have the Water Plaza, the Jetty and the Boardwalk to look forward to. The sunniest bay of the Riverwalk is the Water Plaza between LaSalle and Wells Streets. That block will have fountains, mists and sprays for children to run through and large staircase seating. On the next block is the Jetty, which has more of an educational focus. On floating wetlands and water gardens along several piers you’ll be able to learn about the river’s ecology and look out for fish. The western anchor is the Boardwalk, which offers stunning views of the city’s architecture and new places to plop down by the river’s edge.

The Chicago Riverwalk has come a long way—years ago it’d be hard to imagine spending so much time near a polluted river. But with huge renovations and construction nearing an end, that mindset has already changed and the riverfront has become yet another place for Chicagoans to gather.

Photograph: Courtesy of Sasaki Associates

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