CHICAGO (CBS)– After being shut down for months, the Chicago Riverwalk opened up again early Friday morning, but with restrictions in place to limit crowding.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed the Riverwalk in March — along with the lakefront and The 606 trail — as part of the city’s effort to prevent large crowds from gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lakefront and The 606 remain closed. The Riverwalk is opening sooner because it is shorter (just over a mile) and is managed by a private company with security that can control crowds, officials said.
“The Riverwalk is one of Chicago’s architectural gems and the rare ‘instant-classic’ in our already illustrious lineup of public landmarks. It’s also an important economic engine for our city, drawing an array of residents and visitors to is many bars, restaurants, and recreational activities,” Lightfoot said in a statement Friday morning. “Its reopening marks the latest exciting step in our safe, citywide reopening process, and an important indicator of our great city’s resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 crisis as we work to build, grow, and recover from this pandemic stronger than we’ve ever been.”
Starting Friday, the Riverwalk will be open daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
City officials said between the hours of 5 and 10 a.m., those using the Riverwalk will be able to run, jog, walk, and bike along the path between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Street. At 10 a.m., the Riverwalk will be closed for cleaning.
Starting at 11 a.m. through 9 p.m., the Riverwalk’s concession vendors will be open by reservation only:
- Tiny Tapp & Café- West Dearborn
- City Winery – East Dearborn
- Chicago Brewhouse- West Wabash Stairway
- Beat Kitchen and Community Marketplace West Michigan Avenue
- Chicago’s First Lady and Mercury Sightseeing Cruises East Michigan
- Urban Kayaks, Island Party, The Northman- Columbus
- O’Briens’s Riverwalk Cafe East Wabash
Between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., a limited number of “passive recreation” areas on the Riverwalk also will be open for people who want to spend time outdoors.
- Lake Street and LaSalle Street- Access at Lake Street, ADA ramp between Franklin and Lake or East LaSalle Street.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial- Use State Street ADA ramp
- Michigan Plaza- Use West Michigan Avenue- this will also allow access to the Community Marketplace vendors.
- Columbus Plaza- Use Columbus Stairs
- Sweet Home Gelato- West LaSalle Street – Walk up service
“Passive recreation areas at Columbus, Michigan, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and LaSalle to Lake Street have lots of seating areas, which allow for people to come and sit to enjoy being outside,” a city spokesman said.
Riverwalk paths will be blocked under the bridges between LaSalle and Columbus, and visitors should use stairways.
Access to the Riverwalk will be limited to access points at Lake Street and ADA ramps between Lake Street and Columbus Drive. Access to the lakefront from the Riverwalk will remain closed.
Visitors to the Riverwalk must wear face coverings and stay at least six feet away from other people.
In recent days, Lightfoot has said she hopes to reopen the lakefront soon, as well. She has said city officials are working out details to limit crowding, and to set aside designated times for specific activities.