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Celebrating Chicago’s Three Great Rivers

Sep 26, 2016 03:39PM ● By Ariel Ranieri

Photo courtesy of Ross Barney Architects

Chicago’s rivers are getting the attention they deserve, and we can be a part of making them great. On August 17, the city of Chicago and the Metropolitan Planning Council issued Our Great Rivers (, the first unified vision for the Chicago, Calumet and Des Plaines rivers, with recommendations and goals to ensure Chicago’s rivers are productive, living and inviting spaces by 2040.

       By encouraging more jobs along the riverfront, instilling a source of community pride, promoting a connection with nature and bringing about more open space and recreation opportunities, Our Great Rivers will change the way people think about and experience these important waterways.

       “From opening new boathouses to reinventing the Riverwalk, we’ve made significant investments in the Chicago River to make it the city’s next recreational frontier,” says Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The vision, created with the support of Friends of the Chicago River, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and many others, was based on feedback gathered from more than 6,000 Chicagoland residents that participated in more than 120 community events over the past year.

       MPC Director Josh Ellis says, “While the city and other government agencies lead on some of the recommended actions, we need residents and local stakeholders across the city to play a lead role in creating a future for our rivers that we can all be proud of.”

       People can get involved by joining a park advisory council or a volunteer stewardship group or visiting an area of the rivers to which they have never been. From Ping Tom Park to Calumet Fisheries, the Des Plaines River Trail and the Riverwalk, there are amazing places along our rivers today that we can look to as we plan for tomorrow.

A $50 donation receives a T-shirt including one of three great rivers-themed designs. Call the Metropolitan Planning Council at 312-863-6020 or visit