Learn More & Resources2018-06-14T17:33:11+00:00

Throughout history the Chicago River has played a vital role in the creation and development of Chicago and the Riverwalk is just the latest in a series of ambitious projects around the River. For example, in 1900 the flow of the Chicago River was reversed and in 1929 the project to straighten the South Branch was completed. Over the past half century, civic and elected leaders have invested time and energy to make the river healthy again.

The renewed and improved Chicago Riverwalk has been a priority since the early 1990’s. Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, this dream has become a reality. Here are a few key details about the development of the new and expanded riverwalk:

  • In 1997 a bike trial was built on the southbank between Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue.
  • In 2015 the first of the three rooms, the Marina Plaza, Cove and River Theater were completed.
  • In 2016 the Water Plaza, Jetty and Riverbank sections were completed.

With the infrastructure in place, the Chicago Riverwalk welcomes new vendors, programs and opportunities each season. A historic “Art on theMart” exhibit will open in late fall 2018, which will become an iconic world-class public art display.

What lies ahead? There will be future opportunities to incorporate the Chicago River and provide renewed pedestrian access. In the mean time, come out and enjoy the Riverwalk.

Throughout history the Chicago River has played a vital role in the creation and development of Chicago and the Riverwalk is just the latest in a series of ambitious projects around the River. For example, in 1900 the flow of the Chicago River was reversed and in 1929 the project to straighten the South Branch was completed. Over the past half century, civic and elected leaders have invested time and energy to make the river healthy again.

The renewed and improved Chicago Riverwalk has been a priority since the early 1990’s. Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, this dream has become a reality. Here are a few key details about the development of the new and expanded riverwalk:

  • In 1997 a bike trial was built on the southbank between Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue.
  • In 2015 the first of the three rooms, the Marina Plaza, Cove and River Theater were completed.
  • In 2016 the Water Plaza, Jetty and Riverbank sections were completed.

With the infrastructure in place, the Chicago Riverwalk welcomes new vendors, programs and opportunities each season. A historic “Art on theMart” exhibit will open in late fall 2018, which will become an iconic world-class public art display.

What lies ahead? There will be future opportunities to incorporate the Chicago River and provide renewed pedestrian access. In the mean time, come out and enjoy the Riverwalk.

Educational Resources on the Riverwalk:
Chicago Riverwalk - Bridgehouse Museum

The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum celebrates the Chicago River and its world-famous movable bridges. Beginning at river level and spiraling five stories up, the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore a historic landmark bridgehouse.

99 Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60601

Southwest bridge tower at Michigan Avenue & Wacker Drive

Hours: Thursday – Monday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Phone: 312-977-0227

Educational Resources and Groups

With its rich history, there are innumerable groups and resources that will enrich your experience on the Riverwalk. Here are just a few recommended resources that provide educational information about the Riverwalk and Chicago River:

 

WTTW’s The Chicago River Tour with Geoffry Baer

In the epic drama that is Chicago’s history, the Chicago River has played many roles, by turns hero, villain, and underdog. The most iconic river scenes lie near the river’s confluence with Lake Michigan, the junction that gave rise to the city itself, where skyscrapers now exalt the river’s banks and form a spectacular canyon of stunning architecture. Join Geoffrey Baer and WTTW for a journey along the river that gave birth to Chicago.

Chicago Riverwalk - Chicago Architecture Foundation

Chicago Architecture Foundation

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is a nonprofit cultural organization with tours, exhibitions, programs and events for all ages. Our mission is to inspire people to discover why design matters.

Chicago Riverwalk - Chicago Loop Bridges

Chicago Loop Bridges

Downtown Chicago provides a unique opportunity for anyone interested in bridges. In a mere two miles, there are eighteen movable bridges. Chicago Loop Bridges provides some background information on these beauties, takes you on a virtual tour, and provides suggestions for touring on your own.

Friends of the Chicago River

Friends of the Chicago River is the only organization solely dedicated to the Chicago River system. Since 1979, Friends has been working to improve the health of the Chicago River system for the benefit of people and wildlife and by doing so, has laid the foundation for the river to be a beautiful, continuous, easily accessible corridor of open space in the Chicago region.

Chicago Riverwalk - River Edge Ideas Lab

River Edge Ideas Lab

The Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab is an initiative of and curated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development in collaboration with the Metropolitan Planning Council and funded by the Driehaus Foundation, Comcast, Related Midwest, and The 601 W Companies. The River Lab exhibition is part of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Chicago Riverwalk - Great Rivers Chicago

Great Rivers Chicago

Learn more about the vision for the Chicago, Calumet and Des Plaines Rivers, and find out how you can champion a brighter future for these waterways. The goals and plans are to have inviting, productive and living rivers by 2040.

Chicago Riverwalk - Friends of the Parks

Friends of the Parks

Friends of the Parks is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, protect, improve, and promote the use of parks and open spaces in Chicago for the enjoyment of all residents and visitors. Friends of the Parks is a strong voice for the protection, preservation, expansion and improvement of the city’s 8,100 acres of parks and playgrounds.