North Branch of the Chicago River Transforming Into a ‘Wild Mile’

A remarkable transformation is underway along the North Branch of the Chicago River, after being channelized and brutalized for well over a century.

1 minute read

July 20, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Nate Berg reports for Fast Company on the transformation of the North Branch of the Chicago River, where “smoke-spewing factories,” barges, and conditions similar to a sewer are giving way to “long linear patches of wetlands,” docks, and a floating walkway.  

“This is the first 400 feet of what’s being called the Wild Mile—a grassroots reinvigoration of a stretch of the river that has been off-limits to nearly all forms of life for decades,” writes Berg.

The project, led by the nonprofit Urban Rivers, is planned to revitalize a mile of the river into a floating wetland and trail along the river where it winds around Goose Island. “Thanks to a tax on urban development that helps fund open space, the project has received a significant amount of public funding to get started,” according to Berg.

More habitat restoration and design details are included in the source article. Berg also suggests that the Wild Mile can be a model for other river revitalization projects around the country. More images of the planned project are available on the project website.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 in Fast Company

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