As part of ongoing efforts to enhance visitors' experience on the Chicago Riverwalk, the City will improve older sections east of Michigan Avenue to help create even more opportunities for residents and visitors to interact with and enjoy the Chicago River.
Improvements will include changes to the path to re-orientate visitors' experience with the river, recreation areas, children's play area, public art and improved landscaping.
The plan focuses on access points or gateways along the east end, including:
- Ellen Lanyon Gateway, LSD entrance: improved landscaping, outdoor public seating, viewing area to showcase existing Ellen Lanyon murals within gateway structure.
- Entrance at Field Drive: pedestrian connection from Lake Shore Drive, children's play area, improved landscaping, outdoor public seating, proposed submarine memorial
- Columbus Drive Plaza: improved landscaping and drainage, outdoor public seating, new elevator provided by the Wanda Vista development
- Michigan Avenue West Plaza: reconfigure existing plaza with improved landscaping and public seating to make plaza easier to navigate and more inviting to the public
- Community Corridor Marketplace: west of Michigan Avenue Plaza, city planning to develop market to complement current concessions program to highlight neighborhood businesses
The City has identified $10 million in funding towards these improvements, and construction will occur over the winter months when Riverwalk visitor numbers are significantly lower than in spring-summer seasons.
The winter work will also accommodate the vendors who operate in this portion of the Chicago Riverwalk. Urban Kayaks, Island Party Hut, The Northman, and Chicago's First Lady will also be making site improvements to the areas they are licensed to operate.
A portion of the Riverwalk will be closed for construction beginning Monday, December 17, through May 2019. The closure will extend from Lake Shore Drive to Wabash Avenue. All access points to the Riverwalk west of Wabash will remain open.
The work will include the removal of the ramp from Upper Wacker and Wabash down to the Riverwalk and the addition of two elevators to improve ADA access to the Riverwalk, one at Wabash and one at Columbus Drive. The ramp providing ADA access to the Riverwalk at State Street by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will remain open.
For bicycle riders, there will a detour route westbound from the Lakefront Trail along the Randolph Street protected bike lane; eastbound, the detour will be along the Washington Street and Randolph protected bike lanes.
Since 2011, the Chicago River has been transformed into the city's next recreational park, with vast opportunities for residents and visitors to access and enjoy the river at almost every mile. The Chicago Riverwalk, which covers 1.25-miles through the heart of the city, was completed in 2016 and continues to offer new and improved ways to enjoy Chicago's waterfronts and architecture.