What is it about a river? Life-sustaining; a way of travel; civilizations have grown around them. Rivers are the inspiration for song.
If the lakefront is our heart, the river is our soul. It runs through the city, through downtown and the neighborhoods, for 156 miles and it runs in reverse. It is the place to learn about Chicago history (the learning center to our lakefront playground) and take in spectacular views of the architecture. Watch a movie filmed in Chicago and chances are you’ve seen the river.
The Chicago river sure has changed since I was a child (well, in the last century really, but I wasn’t there so I’ll leave history to the experts). Unlike the lakefront walks I took with the family, except for the boat tours, and Riverview Amusement Park of which my memory is vague, I don’t recall much going on by the river. I do recall hearing back then, there was a vision: that one day the river would be a place for entertainment and bring many visitors here. The day is here……
The Chicago river is pulsating with life: music, entertainment, walking or boat, history or leisurely tours and the like. There’s an Irish pub, a tiki bar, a French café, steaks, brunch and blues. And a special event or two. You can get to Navy Pier from there and you could spend days exploring. One of my favorite things to do is take a water taxi to Ping Tom Park in Chinatown; have a picnic, walk around, grab some dim sum or a bubble (boba) tea or go during an event. Last year we saw a Polynesian themed show with hula and fire dancers. It’s also the site of the dragon boat races. I don’t know exactly why but I feel a special connection to Chinatown. Perhaps it just seemed like different and exciting place to me when I was young and that memory stuck. I like it even more now that I found Ping Tom Park on the river.
If I were to change some words to the song God Bless America to be more Chicago specific, instead of:
“from the mountains to the prairies…”
It might go something like:
“from the river to the rooftops….”
Rooftop establishments have really become quite the thing in this new millennium. It makes sense in a big city when there’s so much congestion. Why grow out when you can grow up. Especially in a city with such spectacular views. Rooftop bars and restaurants are the fastest growing establishments it seems. I probably couldn’t name them all here, at the rate they’re opening, I’m not sure I can keep up. But, I will give a shoutout to two of my favorites thus far.
The J. Parker – located in a boutique hotel across from Lincoln Park. You get the view of the skyline, lake, park and zoo. I love going in early fall when the leaves on the trees are changing color and the little tableside fire pits are going.
London House Hotel – Named after the London House jazz club that used to occupy the ground floor. It’s a historic building, a skyscraper from the 1920s with great views that overlook……
Can’t get any better.