Great Rivers Chicago - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

Great Rivers Chicago

Reconnecting communities and their rivers

Our Great Rivers is a collaborative, comprehensive 30-year vision for the Chicago region's waterways. The vision includes 26 distinct goals to create rivers that are more Inviting, Productive, and Living. The vision frames goals by decade, making 2020 a milestone year. There's been great progress and achievements since the vision's release in 2016 with numerous government agencies, nonprofits, and community partners implementing projects, policies, and activations to collectively advance this vision.


The Chicago, Calumet, and Des Plaines rivers are three of our city’s greatest assets. Investments such as new boat houses and riverbank restoration are helping people in the Chicago region change the way they think of and experience our rivers. The appetite is strong for more planning and improvements for open space, recreation, and community and economic development.


The Our Great Rivers vision—by 2040, Chicago’s rivers will be Inviting, Productive and Living places where everyone can have their own experience—was articulated by thousands of stakeholders through an intensive 18-month, citywide visioning process led by the Metropolitan Planning Council, in partnership with the Office of the Mayor of the City of Chicago, Friends of the Chicago River, and more. Our Great Rivers lays out discrete goals for 20202030, and 2040, enabling us to monitor progress toward achieving InvitingProductive and Living rivers. It also articulates a need to determine new revenue streams and leadership collaborations for the rivers to ensure that this vision is realized and can endure.

Our vision is now becoming a reality. Today, we are working with communities throughout Chicago to help plan for and improve riverfront access, including how we can create a contiguous riverfront trail. 

Check out our 2020 #GreatRiversChicago campaign!

See what community groups are up to along and within our rivers. 


Celebrate and enhance existing assets: Chicagoans are reimaging the river systems as our city’s Second Coast. Raise awareness of the river's trail system and build upon what exists to create a connected riverfront trail from Devon Avenue to Western Avenue that rivals Chicago's Lakefront Trail. 

Spark neighborhood development: Our rivers and riversfronts should be places that celebrate and showcase local neighborhoods by providing activities to bring communities together. Equip local stakeholders with the tools to take on their own placemaking initiatives on their riverfront.

Build consensus: River users vary and sometimes have competing priorities. Through collaboration, build consensus to create a river system that is Inviting, Living and Productive. 

Guide future development: Update riverfront development guidelines to reflect the collective vision in future developments.

Reinvigorate existing plans and initiatives: Bring existing initiatives together to spark new momentum leading to implementation.

Learn more

Latest news More news »



City of Chicago
Friends of the Chicago River
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Active Transportation Alliance


Great Rivers Chicago

Our Great Rivers

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

Donate »