Serving as the bloodstream of the Windy City?s downtown area, the Chicago River possesses a rich heritage. From being an important waterway of commercial trade, Chicago River has evolved into a recreational and leisure attraction complete with kayaks and sightseeing boats. Along the stretch of the riverbanks are boulevards flanked with many cafes and diners.
The Chicago River riverside which spans 251 kilometers or 156 miles was the preferred venue for the majority of the Miami Indian and Illini tribes who decided to call Midwest America their home. When United States was colonized, other residents transferred to the riverbanks as well.
In 1900, engineers were able to fulfill what once thought was a Herculean, or even an impossible task which is to reverse the flow of a naturally flowing river. Before the reversal, the Chicago River poured into Lake Michigan. The reversal of the river flow brought a negative effect which is the contamination of the city?s potable water as the new flow opened room for sewage and other contaminants to enter Chicago?s water basin. As such, a throng of sickness due to dirty drinking water arose. To make the water potable again, Chicago?s water sanitation officers built a chain of canal locks which redirected the water to the state of the art Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal for the water to be treated. During the 1960s, there was a surge of environmentalism among Chicagoans. The Clean Water Act was implemented in the 1970s which aimed to make rivers in the United States ?fishable and swimmable? and the water quality of the Chicago River was enhanced.
One of the constant attractions found in the area that the Chicago River spans are the bridges totaling to 45 movable bridges. A lot of these rivers are popular and are considered architectural wonders such as the bridge found at Michigan Avenue which was one of the first of its kind and was constructed in 1920. Another attraction visitors of the Chicago River can enjoy is the river cruise which offers a tour of the great skyscrapers and other beautiful buildings along the riverbank.
For shopaholics, there is a shopping center in close proximity to the River East Center. After engaging in a retail spree or therapy, guests can relax in a promenade called the DuSable Founder?s Way which takes its name after Chicago?s founder Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable.
Along the banks of the Chicago River is a River Esplanade which houses the Centennial Fountain or formally known as the Nicholas J. Melas Centennial Fountain. The water attraction composed of a waterfall cascading into a semi-circular fashion was built to celebrate the centenary of the reversal of the flow of the Chicago River.