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The Chicago River could host the world’s first floating eco-park

Written by
Marty Johnson
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In just a few weeks, the Chicago River will be dyed green for St. Patrick's Day, and folks from all over the city will gather to admire the spectacle from the Chicago Riverwalk. Architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill recently unveiled its vision to bring residents to the banks of another section of the beloved waterway, through a project that may help keep the river green (in an environmentally friendly sense) all year.

The city is planning to install an eco-park, dubbed Wild Mile Chicago, along a section of the river between Chicago and North Avenues on the east side of Goose Island. The suggested design, originally proposed as a part of the city's 2017 North Branch Framework Plan, would create a series of floating platforms along the edge of the waterway. The park will act as a habitat for plants and wildlife while providing a place for residents to enjoy nature. Chicagoans will be able to walk, run and bike on paths that wind across the structure, or launch a kayak from a dock and admire the sights while paddling through the water.

The Chicago River isn't exactly known for its cleanliness or its ability to provide a sustainable habitat for wildlife, but Wild Mile Chicago has the potential to change that. The water flowing through the eco-park would be absorbed by the roots of plants, naturally cleaning the water by filtering waste and other substances that don't belong.

The groups collaborating on the project—Urban Rivers, the City of Chicago and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill—hope to finalize plans for the eco-park by the end of March and complete the project by mid-2020.

If you live in the area or are just curious about the project, organizers are hosting a community meeting sometime in March. Sign up at the Wild Mile Chicago website to receive additional details about the time and location of the gathering. In the meantime, take a look at some renderings of what the eco-park could look like below. 

Wild Mile Chicago

Courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Wild Mile Chicago

Courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Wild Mile Chicago

Courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Wild Mile Chicago

Courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

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