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Chicago Riverwalk Stumbles

By vouchey in News on Feb 24, 2005 9:42PM

The Chicago RiverFew people think of a river when they think of Chicago. And yet, when many people think of San Antonio, they think of the creek-like trickle through the city that has been developed into a community and tourism masterpiece. How can this injustice continue?

Mayor Richard M. Daley has made clean-up and beautification of the Chicago River one of his top interests throughout his administration, and since 1989, there's been some success. The downtown area doesn't look like a scar through the city any more, you can eat the fish you catch (although they probably don't taste good) and on both the North and South branches, there's been significant development. Ping Tom Park, recently featured in Amazing Race 6, is a good example.

But still the downtown section of the river just doen't attract much foot traffic. Yesterday the city called for bids to design and manage a proposed riverwalk a second time, since the first time around there weren't enough bids for the city to consider. What's wrong with this?

Any observer who has been to both the Chicago and San Antonio Rivers will notice an important difference: San Antonio has pedestrian-friendly areas on both sides of the river. Malls, hotels, restaurants, even a movie theater, all open directly to the riverwalk. In Chicago, even the redesigned East Wacker Drive puts giant roads directly next to the walking area. Not an inviting zone.