The Pilsen-Little Village River Corridor Project was established in 2014 to develop a master plan that will result in a healthier, more accessible Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal corridor from Bubbly Creek to west of Pulaski Road on Chicago’s southwest side. It is the goal of this project not only to improve the environmental quality of this section of the Chicago River System, but to elevate it to a cherished public amenity.
Haunted by a complex history of contamination and neglect, this 3.3 mile reach of river is also impacted by present day pollution from combined sewer ove
flows, storm water runoff, permitted industrial inputs, and a lack of public open space. Despite these challenges, the river, which is bordered by Bridgeport, Pilsen, Little Village, Brighton Park, Archer Heights, McKinley Park, and South Lawndale, presents a great opportunity for revitalization and community enhancement.
A long term plan that results in clean water, capping or removing toxic sediments, eliminating odors, improving native landscapes, creating fish habitat, and developing open space would make the river safer for people and wildlife, and connect the river to the community.
The intent of this project is to view this long segmented section of the river as a single unit. This section of the river can serve as the organizing principle around which we may consider how to creatively establish a healthy recreational corridor, eventually bringing the same kind of attention and investment to it that other reaches have received. The project area starts at Bubbly Creek with Park 571 and Canal Origins Park and continues downstream to include the Canalport Riverwalk, the Richard J. Daley Boat Launch, the recently shuttered Fisk and Crawford sites, Parcel S, Park 553, the Collateral Channel and any other open spaces that can become part of the amenity mosaic.
Considering the recent announcement by the City of Chicago to invest over $100 million in a downtown river-walk project, the time is ripe to address the remediation of the water and revitalization of the riverfront properties adjacent to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and even consider renaming it. Our goal is to ensure that the wider public is aware of its environmental condition, the need for access to riverfront public spaces for healthy recreation and leisure activities, and that they know they can be a part of the solution by advocating for change.