A month or so ago, my buddy Holly (I KNOW, I know, I will only do it the one time) and I were chatting about the Chicago River. She asked me if I had ever walked the river from the northside to downtown. I had never done this and Holly had never done this, so we decided that on July 26th the two of us would have breakfast (we had to bulk up you know) and walk downtown along the river.
Well, that was the plan anyway.
Our day was beautiful, just past the heatwave and sun was shining, gorgeous. We started at Belmont and Damen as this was the spot where our familiarization with the river became foggy.
Here we are, ready to go, fresh from breakfast and assumptions:
“THERE’S NO RIVERWALK HERE” SAID THE MULTITUDES OF PARKING LOTS
We realized pretty fast that there’s no real “Chicago Riverwalk” into the city. Pretty much as soon as we started, in some back lot of industrial warehouses, a guy drove up in his car. He and his lanyard told us this was private property and that he “knew what we were doing” looking for the riverwalk. He warned us about some sketchy parts and then took off. WE WERE NOT AFRAID.
Much of any riverwalk that there is looks a lot like this: big strip mall buildings and short stretches of riverwalk behind it:
There were lots of places to view how close (or not, there was definitely backtracking) we were to the city:
At one point, I was spinning all around trying to figure out where we were and Holly figured it out real quick, “We’re by Vienna Beef! We know where we are!” We laughed that whenever a Chicagoan is unsure of where they are, Vienna Beef will always provide the answer:
We came across quite a few cool bridges:
Somewhere around North ave we see this mountain of metal in the sky. There were huge cranes and moving piles of steel. We were so confused. Upon closer inspection, we discovered we were at the Recycling Center of Chicago! We wandered around for awhile, no one seemed to mind and it was REALLY cool and weird:
And this (for me, this was the coolest thing we saw the whole day, the whole Recycling Center was pretty cool):
Right around the corner from recycling, we smelled/found a leather tannery! SO WEIRD AND COOL. It really smelled like leather and we could feel the heat oozing out the windows:
We were so close to the city at this point and we were so hot. We see we’re on the opposite side of the riverwalk but we can’t figure out how to get over there! But nevermind because here we are! (After many years of wondering what was going on here, now I know, CONCRETE) Prairie Material Yard 32:
Across the river! THERE! Montgomery Ward buildings! Accessible riverwalk! Almost there! Holly and I were so hot at this point. We were excited that we were done, but we still yearned for some actual riverwalk. We finally made it to the east side and to some actual public access:
After deciding we were close enough to downtown to satisfy us, we ran through a forest of sprinklers which changed everything about our hot lives. We walked across the street for slushies and hopped up to the brownline to head home roughly about three hours after we started:
So, I wouldn’t say our walk was “lovely” although, parts of it were. It wasn’t easy, or relaxing, or calming. But it was a hell of a walk, I put my feet on parts of this city I’ve never put them on before and that alone pleases me. Holly and I talked of ducks and terns and wildlife on the river. We marveled at the city we never see and we talked and laughed, ran through sprinklers and drank all of the cold, sugary drinks we could find.
It was a great day, a really great day. And I’m sunburned…really sunburned. Heh.