Great Rivers Chicago Vision Plan

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Vision for 150 miles of Riverfront
Status: Complete, 2016
Collaborative Partners: Metropolitan Planning Council, Friends of the Chicago River, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, City of Chicago
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Great Rivers Chicago is a vision to unlock the potential of the Chicago, Calumet, and Des Plaines Rivers and riverfronts. The entire river system has steadily gained a vocal collective of advocates, all looking to reconnect the daily experience of the City with the dynamic and changing life of the River. With over 150 miles of riverfront and 70+ species of fish, the river is an evolving ecosystem of inestimable natural value.

After scouring countless riverfront plans and reports, hosting nearly 100 outreach meetings, and collecting more than 5,500 responses from Chicagoan’s about their hopes for our rivers; Great Rivers Chicago sets a broad vision and action agenda. The goal: to create inviting, productive, and living rivers that will make citizens proud, and connect communities.
By reinterpreting the relationship to water, Great Rivers Chicago focuses on five place-based examinations that manifest new dimensions and perceptions. From the suburban context where the connection between office park, transportation, and forest preserve is knit together by a riverfront trail (Cumberland Blue Line Station) to the Post-industrial south canal that now flows adjacent to thriving residential neighborhoods that offer a unique relationship between river, production, and commerce (2481 South Ashland Avenue and Riverdale Park & Industry Development). On the near north side, Goose Island plays host to a non-navigable portion of the river that is ripe with opportunity for a wetland park and recreation paradise for a booming tech-innovation community. Most poignantly, the Collateral Channel represents the misuse of the river by past industry. With a riverbed that is contaminated, giving off unpleasant odors, the vision actively caps and installs a natural ecosystem to filter river water.

System wide in its scope and recommendations, Great Rivers Chicago is the start of an evolving perception and deep appreciation of Chicago’s second shoreline.