Yes, Virginia there is a Chicago River. Perhaps Chicago is most known for its vast Lake Michigan or for its towering Sears (Willis) Tower or its old, ivy-covered Wrigley Field. But lest we forget this amazing thoroughfare that serpentines right through the heart of the city. It carries commuters on water taxis. It’s crossed by 38 bridges. For forty years, it has been dyed a bright green every St Patrick’s Day. And its direction was magically reversed away from Lake Michigan in an engineering feat back in 1900 to help improve sanitary conditions of Chicago’s drinking water.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging public interest in architecture and design. CAF gives hundreds of tours (by boat, bus, bike, Segway, or on foot) exhibitions, lectures, and special events all around this city very famous for its skyline and architecture. From Daniel Burnham to Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry, Chicago has been progressive and innovative since it was burned to the ground back in 1871, creating that blank slate and canvas for something well-planned and truly amazing.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be invited by the CAF to take their wonderful and informative Chicago River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady. I had taken the river cruise years earlier and had frequently recommended it to others. It’s fun to be on the river and also cool to learn more about the buildings that surround us everyday.
Expert volunteer tour guides—called docents—interpret more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River, revealing how the city grew from a small back-country outpost into one of the world’s most important crossroads in less than 100 years.
For more info or to sign up for the CAF River Cruise, click here.