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Chicago Riverwalk extension opening this weekend

The western extension of the Chicago Riverwalk will open this weekend, bringing a range of new outdoor attractions to the Loop just in time for summer.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will officially announce the opening of the second phase of the Riverwalk on Friday. That phase has been focused on creating a continuous walkway from Lake Shore Drive to LaSalle Street. Beginning on Saturday, urban adventurers can take advantage of two of these three new blocks from State to Clark streets, while the stretch from Clark to LaSalle is expected to open in June.

The addition will offer bars and restaurants, live entertainment, kayak and bicycle rentals, and boat docking privileges. The city has already announced a list of more than a dozen vendors (below) including a pop-up tiki bar and an outpost of City Winery, which is known for creating a wine country experience in urban environments. Only some of these vendors will open this weekend and other announcements are anticipated later this summer.

Michelle Woods, who is responsible for the commercial development of the Riverwalk, previewed the project at Chicago Loop Alliance's Leadership Forum earlier this month. Each of the additional three blocks have distinctive identities and purposes, thematically named: the Marina (State Street to Dearborn Street), a place for boats to dock and pedestrians to take in the scenery; the Cove (Dearborn Street to Clark Street), which includes native landscaping that can tolerate the rising river levels during major storm events; and the River Theater (Clark to LaSalle Street), a vertical connection to upper Wacker Drive complete with trees growing from the steps to create an urban forest.

Construction on a third phase of the Riverwalk will likely begin soon, expanding the footprint an additional three blocks to Lake Street.


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