Oh, the Chicago River. Depending on your life experiences, you are either excited by the prospect of hanging out near, or even kayaking in, this body of water that weaves through our city or….you’re absolutely sickened by this infected moat. I get it. Well, it continues to exist and isn’t going anywhere either way. That’s probably why the city worked with developers, engineers, and other miracle workers to not only improve the river quality over the years, but develop the area around it now known as the Riverwalk. Yes, the Riverwalk. I pretty much assumed for years this stretch of concrete was a place for hopelessly lost tourists, weirdos, perverts, or the severely depressed (hell – that’s why I hung out there). However, in case you have missed it, which I did for many months, the city did a number on said Riverwalk. After exploring it a little with TheMidsis, I found that you may want to reconsider your previous suspicions, as did I.
The Riverwalk can be reached from the West between Franklin and Wacker, near Lake Street, where you can walk down to the south bank – click here for map. One of the first things you’ll notice besides the new buildings that have erected is…..you guessed it, a huge deer. This art installation, also titled “Deer”, by Tony Tasset, is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Year of Public Art for 2017 and will be up until October. While The Knife would definitely complain about how much this art and everything else is costing the city, his daughter and others are surely enjoying every bit of it. So, who knows, maybe it is all worth it. Here’s a glimpse at not only the art, but some of the other kinds of shenanigans going on down by the new and improved Riverwalk:
As you walk East down the Riverwalk, you will notice just how many kayakers and boats are going up and down the river. It definitely seems like there are more people enjoying these water-going activities more than ever before. Definitely more joggers as well. No excuse not to get down there.
Further down the Riverwalk, you will see some of the newer dining establishments along the way. As you know, people like to eat and drink in any place they can in Chicago, so now there are plenty of opportunities to do just that. After sampling some of this myself, I think they did a pretty good job facilitating. Tiny Tapp is an offshoot from the folks at Tiny Lounge in Lincoln Square. They have a cafe that opens at 8am as well as the bar/restaurant that opens at 11am. They offer some interesting bar food choices like brisket nachos and a bacon sausage sandwich as well as, ya know, some healthier salad-type options. They have their specialty craft cocktails but also craft beers from the likes of Revolution, Moody Tongue and Deschutes. Check their live music schedule as they have a few more feature performances before summer’s over, as well as singers every Monday and Wednesday evening. City Winery, also an offshoot of the West Loop location, has some decent sandwiches, salads and charcuterie, amongst other things, not to mention TheMidsis’s favorite menu item, wine. I will note that the wine is served through a unique tap system to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. So, there ya go. Be on the lookout for other events, such as Friday Night Flights on August 18th and the two remaining Unifest Thursdays (one of them is tomorrow). Each Unifest showcases seven of Chicago’s 28 international sister cities through food, drink, and music.
I also noticed that there is a mix of all kinds of people down there. Tourists yes, but also a lot of after-work crowds stopping down there for a few beers, as well as many others just looking to hang out on the steps and enjoy the view. And then there’s us, I don’t know what you call us but we were basically just creepily spying on everyone else. Many city-goers also seem to be utilizing the Chicago Water Taxi which is nice to see (no water Ubers yet).
The “Chicago Remembers Vietnam Memorial” has been part of the Riverwalk since 2005 and offers some quieter places to sit and reflect on what others gave so that we can hang out by the river and do anything at all.
A view of O’Briens from the other side…
And, if you have made it to the end, great. You can jump into the lake and call it a day. Or, you can stop off on the Mag Mile and do a million other things. Or go back to your cave in the burbs. But you might want to walk up to Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue and check out another art installation….our old pal and patriarch, Honest Abe. This huge bronze statue titled, “Return Visit” by Seward Johnson, (same sculptor of the previous Marilyn Monroe statue) will be temporary as well.
So, that’s it. There is still time left to enjoy the Riverwalk if you haven’t been. I promise you, it’s come a long way and not just for the tourists, perverts, or weirdos. Even though we weirdos kind of enjoyed it.
Dig it? Share it.