2020 Goal: A unified brand and comprehensive wayfinding

Comprehensive wayfinding makes The 606 easy to navigate, and its brand and visual identity have helped it quickly become a part of Chicago culture. Our rivers need a brand for the same reasons.

As more and more people experience Chicago’s rivers, the city will channel that energy into a unified brand that celebrates our rivers’ history and promotes their future. The brand will be honed through these myriad experiences and ultimately will be communicated through wayfinding, marketing and programming.

“We could have visual signals that tell you the river is nearby, like unique planting boxes or different colors on bridges or street furniture.”

—Focus group participant

Cooperation between the City of Chicago and other riverfront land managers, including the Chicago Park District, Forest Preserves of Cook County and suburban neighbors, will ensure a seamless experience. A “one-stop shopping” website will provide information about events, stewardship opportunities, construction and development news, accessibility maps and tips, water quality and conditions data, and historical information. To pique the curiosity of the millions of people who cross over or under the city’s three rivers on a daily basis, branded rivers-related signs will be posted on auto and pedestrian bridges, and CTA trains and buses will announce river crossings. Comprehensive wayfinding will reinforce the brand and unify the riverfront, lakefront, off-street trails and bike lanes as one integrated system that connects Chicagoans, suburban neighbors and visitors.

Cygnus Group

A brand and unified design language make Calgary's riverfront attractive and easy to get around.

Making it happen

  • Engage an experienced marketing and design firm to develop a comprehensive branding strategy for Chicago’s three rivers. A brand and deployment strategy should be in place before additional signage, wayfinding, a river website or other materials are developed further.
  • Build a centralized website for all river-related activities.
  • Develop a comprehensive wayfinding plan for all three rivers that connect users to local amenities and attractions, bike routes and other existing trail networks.

Key players

Mayor’s Office, Choose Chicago, Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development, Chicago Dept. of Transportation, Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago Park District, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Friends of the Chicago River, community organizations

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