Aspirational visions of our rivers' future, looking out to 2020, 2030 and 2040, with recommended actions for the public and government to take. This is not a description of current conditions, but a vision of the future, and the full realization of the idea in question. We timed the goals based on a combination of feasibility and priority.


Kate Joyce Studio

Our rivers will be inviting: Enhancements to infrastructure, information and programming will make our rivers more intuitive, meaningful and exciting places to be, drawing more people for recreation, work and relaxation.

Improved cleanliness, safety and neighborhood linkages will lay the groundwork for creating more welcoming rivers and riverfronts. Better wayfinding and interpretative signage will convey the breadth of the rivers' role in shaping Chicago's past and future, while making the system easy to navigate. City, neighborhood and civic leaders will collaborate to design new access points, amenities, entertainment and activities for residents and tourists of all ages and abilities.


  1. 2020 Activities to draw people to our rivers
  2. 2020 Safe rivers and riverfronts
  3. 2020 A unified brand and comprehensive wayfinding
  4. 2020 Real-time water quality information
  5. 2020 Water quality plans for all river stretches
  6. 2030 Continuous riverfront trails
  7. 2030 Easy access from all neighborhoods
  8. 2030 Access for people of all ages and abilities
  9. 2040 Fully litter- and odor-free rivers

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Our rivers will be productive: They have historically been and will continue to be working rivers that are transportation arteries, commercial corridors and tourism generators.

Where economic activity is the best use of riverfront land, we’ll work to retain existing businesses that rely on the water and attract new types of entrepreneurs and jobs, while preserving the integrity of the water and the culture of surrounding communities. We’ll enhance our rivers’ transportation infrastructure to accommodate barges, tour boats, water taxis and recreational watercraft. Together, business, community, government and civic leaders will create innovative riverfront development that harmonizes the needs of people, businesses and nature.


  1. 2020 New visions for modern working rivers
  2. 2020 New tools to support riverfront productivity
  3. 2030 A clear path forward for the Port District
  4. 2030 Integrated transit on land and water
  5. 2030 Local tourism and jobs
  6. 2030 Iconic riverfront destinations
  7. 2030 Productive use (and reuse) of water
  8. 2040 Revitalized and reimagined infrastructure

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Jeremy Riel

Our rivers will be living: From riverbeds to shorelines, plants, animals and people will co-exist in vibrant, healthy ecosystems.

Water quality management policies will proactively reduce pollution, restore the environment, create more habitat for fish and wildlife, and aggressively combat the spread of invasive species. Future riverfront development of all kinds will incorporate planned space for all forms of life, connecting people to nature.


  1. 2020 Active stewardship of every park and preserve
  2. 2020 Ecologically sensitive shoreline development
  3. 2020 Aggressive management of invasive species
  4. 2020 Expanded Chicago Park District Natural Areas
  5. 2030 Our rivers as parks
  6. 2030 Expanded preserves and parks
  7. 2030 Coordinated prevention of water pollution
  8. 2030 Rivers we can swim in
  9. 2040 Thriving river ecosystems

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