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New Downtown Riverwalk Stretch Is Now Open

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 23, 2015 4:00PM

Get ready for the first leg of Chicago's Riverwalk expansion. The first two blocks of the $100 million construction project are set to open today (Saturday), on a stretch of the below-street level walkway from State Street to Clark Street.

Once totally finished late next year, the walkway project is slated to stretch for 1.25 miles from Lake Michigan to the Lake Street Bridge, following the curve of the south branch of the river and Wacker Drive. Certain sections will feature simple seating options, while others will have a live performance venue and child-friendly play areas.

Construction workers were still paving the walkway with granite and limestone bricks on the south bank of the river Thursday afternoon, according to a Tribune reporter who toured the site.

The reporter also spotted newly-planted red maple and honey locust trees and artistic and reflective stainless steel canopies. Officials said motor boats would be able to dock at Marina Plaza between State and Dearborn streets by Saturday, and kayakers will be able to dock nearby at the same time.

Vendors who have been awarded contracts to sell food and drinks along the new and improved Riverwalk include O'Briens Riverwalk Cafe, City Winery and Flander's Belgian Beer & Fries.