To-Do: Chicago River Cruise

To-Do: Chicago River Cruise


If you’ve ever been to Chicago, you’ve more than likely noticed the Chicago flag. It’s iconic and timeless design, simple yet strong, is one of my favorite examples of graphic design excellence. Every symbol is there for a reason, each one representing an important component of the city. It’s clean, elegant, and ubiquitous. It only makes sense that the Chicago River is represented.The top blue stripe represents Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago River. The bottom blue stripe represents the South Branch of the river and the “Great Canal”, over the Chicago Portage. (source)

Though not especially long (a combined length of 156 miles that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center) the river is notable for being a reason why Chicago became an important location, with the related Chicago Portage being a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley waterways and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

Arguably, the best part of this functional waterway is the architectural eye-candy. And the views never get old. They are always changing! You’ll see classics like the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, innovative designs like Marina City, and the most recent additions – the building boom at Wolf Point. Not to mention the fantastic River Walk that is nearing completion.

On this particular day, we were treated to a cruise sponsored by the Chicago Architectural Foundation aboard Chicago’s First Lady. It felt more like early March than early May, but it takes more than a chill in the air to keep us from a river cruise. The CAF docent who led this tour was very knowledgable, and shared a ton of interesting facts about the architecture and design that line the river. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you should add the Chicago River Cruise to your summer to-do list.

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