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Wild Mile adds to dynamic North Branch of Chicago River

North Branch Works
January 6, 2021

Adding green space along the North Branch would create an incredible neighborhood destination and support businesses, jobs, and local economic development.

The city has taken exciting steps toward this vision with the Wild Mile Chicago, a 17-acre floating park in the North Branch Canal.

Approved in the North Branch Framework Plan, the floating park will run in-stream from North Avenue south to Chicago Avenue directly behind area businesses such as Whole Foods and REI.

North Branch Works is thrilled to support this initiative, which has been led by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development and two of our partners, Urban Rivers, and the Near North Unity Program.

The Wild Mile will create vibrant open spaces and world-class wildlife sanctuaries along the North Branch that support job creation, thriving shopping districts and incredible recreational and educational opportunities.

It’s great to see the city prioritizing this part of the North Branch given nearby developments that will further neighborhood economic development, including riverfront trails at Lincoln Yards and Lathrop Homes, and the eventual completion of the 312 RiverRun Trail.

A local nonprofit, Urban Rivers, is working hard to implement the Chicago Department of Planning and Development’s Wild Mile Framework Plan.

Over the last several years, Urban Rivers staff organized a broad community coalition of stakeholders to work on the project, led community trash cleanups including one with Waste Management, conducted research studies, and spearheaded fundraising efforts.

Currently, the first phase of the floating gardens has been completed; it’s expected the construction of walkways along the North Branch Canal will be finished by the end of 2021.

So what are the next steps and how can you get involved? You can support the Wild Mile by signing up for updates and joining Urban Rivers as a member.

And Urban Rivers is seeking corporate volunteers with ambitious plans for volunteer projects as soon as they can be carried out safely.

For corporate and group volunteering opportunities, please reach out to Nick Wesley (pictured below left), co-founder and Director, 708-606-0637,

Image credit (top): Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Image credit (below): Kaylie Slack, The Columbia Chronicle

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