The development of the Chicago Riverwalk has been a long process! For nearly a decade the city has worked hard to create new life around the main branch of the Chicago River, dividing the work into three phases. Phase one, which spans from State Street all the way east to Lake Michigan was completed in 2009. In 2012, when Chicago Electric Boat Company opened for business, the second phase was well underway, between State Street and LaSalle Drive. It was incredible to watch (and hear!) the transformation first hand, and we were thrilled when the middle section was completed in June of 2015. Home to City Winery, Tiny Hatt and (our personal favorite!) Frost Gelato, the second phase of the Chicago Riverwalk development was certainly a sweet one.
What’s even sweeter is that the third and final phase of the Chicago Riverwalk is officially complete! Saving the best for last, this phase is easily the most unique one yet. Running from LaSalle Drive all the way west to the split at Lake Street, each section has it’s own “theme”. Let’s break them down:
The Water Plaza – LaSalle to Wells
This particular section of the Riverwalk receives the most direct sunlight throughout the day and the Water plaza was designed with that, and children, in mind. It offers “zero-depth” fountains for children to splash around in while cooling off and beating the summer heat. It will be a great way to stay cool during what is sure to be a hot summer. Various retail vendors will also be preset along this stretch of the Riverwalk.
The Jetty – Wells to Franklin
The Jetty was designed to house fish and plants that are native to the river’s ecosystem. It will serve as a place for them to safely live, grow, and eventually contribute to their population. It features pier-like structures that “jut” out from the main stretch of Riverwalk. Visitors will be able to walk out onto them to get a better look at the habitats below, serving as an educational destination for children and adults alike.
The Boardwalk – Franklin to Lake
The Boardwalk, which went without a planned theme during the majority of its development, is now designated as a ‘green space’. Located at the western end of the Riverwalk, where the river itself splits into North and South branches, this much appreciated green space will be much larger and structurally different than the proceeding sections. Included in this section is a large, gently sloping ramp, providing easy access for wheelchairs and strollers.
These additions will bring lots of new entertainment, people, businesses, and events to the riverwalk. After years of operating on the Chicago River from Marina City, we are excited to also offer rentals on our Suncruisers (Miss Jennifer and Sweet Caroline) which will depart from the Riverwalk side. No visit to the Chicago Riverwalk is complete without a boat ride, so reserve yours today!