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Old 02-01-2010, 05:39 AM
 
Location: Chicago
3,146 posts, read 3,039,810 times
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Chicago River vs. Lake Michigan

Maybe it's time to make an assessment on where the two stand in relationship with each other.

A mere half century back, Chicago was indeed The City on the Lake. Its river was a sewer running through it, perhaps best symbolized by the Civic Opera's blank "backside" facing its banks. Outside of downtown, the river was an industrial wasteland.

All that contrasts today. The riverfront is prime property. Ask Trump. Wacker Boulevard has been transformed. The river walk grows and prospers, hurt only by the economy. the north and south branches have sprung high end residential close to the Loop. Some of the most iconic photos of our city show off what is by far the most humanly canyonized river in the world.

During the last 50 years, of course, the lakefront hasn't skipped a beat and continues to grow and improve. But the dramatic rise of the Chicago River has given us a two prong waterfront and both....lake and river...among the most dramatic in the nation or the world.

So how about it? when we look at today's Chicago, is this still the City by the Lake or is there any equity in saying Chicago is the City by the Lake and on the River?
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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Sure.
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:09 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Interesting question. My hunch is that although attitudes towards the Chicago River are changing, we still are the city by the Lake. My reasoning is that very few cities in the US, especially in the Midwest , do not have a River flowing through it. Des Moines has the Des Moines River, Indy has the White, Springfield the Sangamon, and so on. Our Lake Michigan shoreline differentiates Chicago from almost all other cities in the area, and is what people will think about when they think of us as a city. Sometime in the future, people may think something along the lines of "The city by the Lake... oh and they have a pretty nice riverfront too", but I kind of feel like the River will always be a distant second. When people think of Riverfront cities, they tend to think of cities on much bigger rivers, like Saint Louis, Memphis, Cincinnati, etc.
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Old 02-01-2010, 03:38 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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Though the difference between Chicago (and Milwaukee perhaps) is that its CBD surrounds the river while St. Louis, Memphis, and Cincinnati are simply besides their rivers.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:36 PM
 
454 posts, read 872,409 times
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Imagine your house sits right next to an enormous municipal water tower.
In the backyard of your house, you have a garden hose....

Would people think of you as the "House next to the water tower" or the "house with the garden hose?"
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:03 PM
 
Location: Chicago - near NW
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The Chicago River outside of downtown is not a nice or fun destination at all.
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:22 PM
 
Location: Logan Square
1,912 posts, read 3,506,810 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by It'sAutomatic View Post
The Chicago River outside of downtown is not a nice or fun destination at all.
Tell that to the overpriced condos/SFHs going up in Logan Square, Bridgeport and Ravenswood to name just a couple that purport being riverside as a selling feature.
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surlycue View Post
Tell that to the overpriced condos/SFHs going up in Logan Square, Bridgeport and Ravenswood to name just a couple that purport being riverside as a selling feature.
But really apart from those areas, what the previous poster said about the river outside downtown is not pretty fun is pretty much right on.

Bridgeport has managed to turn some of its former industrial lands into the canal origins park. Once you go far northwest enough, beyond Goose Island and Lathrop Homes, yes the the north branch becomes greener and lined with parks. Re: Logan Square and Ravenswood.

Pilsen, where the previous poster is listed really has no nice riverfront area. Its all industry still pretty much.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Chicago
3,146 posts, read 3,039,810 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
Though the difference between Chicago (and Milwaukee perhaps) is that its CBD surrounds the river while St. Louis, Memphis, and Cincinnati are simply besides their rivers.
True. But the river's very narrowness allows it to work its way into the cityscape and be a part of the city in a way that neither the Ohio or Mississippi do in the cities mentioned above.

I think it's a matter of apples and oranges. And Chicago (and as noted by you Milwaukee) are among the few cities that are built on both banks of narrow rivers.

It is the very narrowness of the river that gives it a canyon feel that would be most difficult in a wider river. Even the East River is too wide to give that feel in the portion where lower Manhattan is on one bank and DT Bkyn on the other.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:32 AM
 
Location: In the heights
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Aye, it's what makes the area around the river so notable.

Heya, does Chicago do anything with the river like San Antonio's Riverwalk?
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