Chicago YIMBY Visit The Wild Mile After Its First Summer Near Goose Island

Skyline looms with vining plants cascading from the river retaining walls by Ian Achong

Chicago YIMBY checked in on the innovative Wild Mile at 905 W Eastman Street near Goose Island after its first operational summer. Located directly behind the Lincoln Park REI store near the Big Deahl development that is currently under construction, the small park is only part of a larger proposal aiming at reinventing the Chicago River’s north branch. Nonprofit Urban Rivers is leading the charge for the SOM designed masterplan, of which the park is only the first phase opening late last year with this summer being its first full season.

One of multiple seating areas surrounded by floating wetlands by Ian Achong

Eventually stretching over said mile, the fully floating park occupies part of the unused canal providing educational opportunities, play areas, floating wetlands, seating areas, kayak launches, and fish hatcheries. The now-open portion contains 1,500 square feet of floating gardens with over 60 types of native plants picked in collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Gardens that were seen thriving even this late in the blooming season. These were planted on a natural substrate allowing their roots to promote new fish populations across the water from the Waste Management sorting facility.

Kayakers set off on a led tour from the Wild Mile with Lincoln Yards in the back by Ian Achong

One of multiple seating spaces on the Wild Mile by Ian Achong

Cutting through those is a zigzagging wood boardwalk built by FWM Docks and will allow for easy connections to future expansions. This is dotted with various sitting areas seen occupied during the balmy late summer day, visitors enjoyed the bees and blooming hibiscus flowers with their pets and picnics in tow. Off of the dock a docent-led kayak tour was kicking off with people of all ages getting to experience one of Chicago’s greatest natural resources, people were also seen launching their own with the sprawling skyline to the south and the first building of Lincoln Yards to the north.

View of the Chicago skyline from the southern end of the Wild Mile by Ian Achong

A magnificent new addition to the city and north side, this first phase of the Wild Mile sets a new precedent for the future of green spaces in the city including the recently announced Bubbly Creek study. As Chicago continues to grow, the river continues to play an integral part in people’s livelihood and thus its health is interconnected with ours. The park will continue to be open year round and provide new data for the Shedd Aquarium team on the state of the water and how what we’re learning here can shape what we do moving forward.

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5 Comments on "Chicago YIMBY Visit The Wild Mile After Its First Summer Near Goose Island"

  1. Does anyone know how they will prevent ice damage or even the block of ice pulling to entire thing down river?

  2. It’s great to see cities reclaiming their waterways like this.

  3. Did you know that 70% of the flow in the Chicago River is treated wastewater?

  4. I tried visiting today. The area is incredibly congested and there was no parking anywhere nearby. Does REÍ allow you to use their lot to visit the park— or could you park in the REÍ lot, (shop), and validate?

    • That is a great question, I visited via CTA, however since REI uses the dock I don’t see why they wouldn’t, perhaps step in and ask first!

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