Southbank Riverwalk

By accident, walking at lunchtime yesterday, I walked far enough south from my office to come upon this new rivewalk path, the “Southbank Riverwalk,” that follows the South Branch of the Chicago river for a few hundred yards. When I walked it, in the middle of the day on a weekday, it was almost as empty as an architectural concept drawing.

boardwalk plant

Cities spend a long time trying to push nature away, to turn the earth into abstract space fit for development. Few cities make this more obvious than Chicago, the most grid-like metropolitan area in the world. But when a city reaches a certain point in its development, the effort reverses; it becomes pleasing to bring nature back in.


The boardwalk lets its traveller float across nature; the walker gets close to the trees, bushes and ground, without scraping up against the surfaces of plant or earth. The boardwalk is the long, straight line that maintains the geometric, regular the built world.

Indeed the nature walk in the city might be at its best when it uses natural elements, like trees, to frame all the familiar monuments.


Tags walking