Construction Update
Downtown Riverwalk Running Toward Completion

Chicago Riverwalk construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Joel)

Chicago Riverwalk construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Joel)

The Chicago Department of Transportation takes a lot of heat for things like potholes and plowing side streets. But when it comes to big infrastructure projects like bridges and bike lanes, it certainly does get shit done.

One project that’s coming together much quicker than would seem possible is the new Chicago Riverwalk sections being built along the south side of the river’s main channel.

It was less than three years ago that the plans drawn up by Sasaki Associates, Alfred Benesch & Co., Ross Barney Architects and Jacobs/Ryan Associates started to become reality. Six blocks of varying riverside delight in the heart of North America’s second most metropolitan city.

Already three of those “rooms” are open to the public, and two are far enough along that you can tell where they’re going.

Which brings us to the photograph above, sent in by Loop Spy Joel. It shows the section known as “The Jetty,” between the Wells Street and Franklin Street bridges. Above the surface it consists of a series of irregular angled miniature piers to allow people to get close to the water. The city envisions it as a place for people to linger, take photographs, and go fishing. But it’s what’s happening below the surface that we think is the best part.

That’s where a habitat is being created to help the river’s fish population. You may remember years ago Friends of the Chicago River built a “fish hotel” next to the Michigan Avenue Bridge. It was such a success in helping nurture our finned friends that the concept has been incorporated into this section of the riverwalk. Those silver things you see in the water are pylons for the floating gardens.

This entire phase of the riverwalk – All six rooms from State Street to Lake Street is scheduled to be completed this year.

Location: West Wacker Drive between North Franklin Street and North Wells Street, The Loop

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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