Our great rivers

A vision for the Chicago, Calumet and Des Plaines rivers

By 2040, Chicago’s rivers will be inviting, productive and living, providing everyone with opportunities to find or create their own place, their own experience and their own community on our rivers.

Updates from the river


Aspirational visions of our rivers' future, looking out to 2020, 2030 and 2040, with recommended actions for the public and government to take.


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.


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


Our rivers will be living—from riverbeds to shorelines, replete with vibrant, healthy ecosystems where plants, animals and people co-exist.

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River map

Find out where current and future ideas are taking place.

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Our rivers need us, just as we need them.

Our great rivers can rejuvenate communities and ecosystems, connect us to nature and build our economy. Our great rivers can be inviting, productive and living. That's your vision, Chicago.

Kate Joyce Studio

They need property owners, business leaders, elected officials, real estate developers, philanthropists, teachers, students, paddlers, boat captains, crane operators, advocates and artists to work toward our vision for the future of Our Great Rivers. We need water, solace, movement, nature, and places to connect with each other and ourselves. For too long, these bonds between our rivers and ourselves have been broken. Thanks to a relative few tireless advocates and resource managers, driven by their commitment to the potential of our rivers, we have begun to mend past and present transgressions. We have created truly great new spaces and experiences along our rivers that give us all reason to strive for more. To go the rest of the way, to restore the bonds between us and our great rivers, we need you—we need all of us.

Yes, government will need to lead on activities such as ending combined sewer overflows, reinvigorating sustainable riverfront productivity, even just putting signs on bridges. But the onus is on everyone, from local residents to business leaders, philanthropy to government, to advocate, ensure sufficient revenues, and hold ourselves and our elected officials accountable. This simply will not happen without persistence, drive, enthusiasm and a shared belief that we can build a future that is better than the present.

So join us.
Make the Chicago, Calumet and Des Plaines your rivers—collectively, our great rivers—by shaping their future.

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