Throwing out ideas – like gondolas – for Chicago’s Riverwalk

One Chicago firm threw out some ideas for Chicago’s proposed Riverwalk and they included the idea of gondolas:

With the city’s major overhaul of the Chicago Riverwalk and the new Lighting Framework Plan, which will bathe downtown Chicago with bright colorful lights, designers are getting creative about all of the things that can be done to transform the Riverwalk into a must-visit tourist attraction.

Local engineering outfit VIATechnik has sent us some renderings of what they imagine the Riverwalk could one day become. Their ideas for the Riverwalk include cafes, live music, a fitness center, and even gondola tours. Ok, so the Chicago River is already pretty crowded, and probably wouldn’t be the best place for relaxing gondola rides, but there’s no doubt that in a few years the area will be completely transformed, and will become a much more popular tourist spot.

A rep from VIATechnik told us that they aren’t actually submitting these ideas to the city for the Lighting Framework Plan, or any other initiative, but instead, they just wanted to throw the ideas out there to generate some discussion, and of course some publicity. Previously, the company held their own unofficial Lucas Museum design competition, and received some pretty submissions.

Even if the gondolas were intended to generate more discussion, they raise an interesting question: how much can a city borrow from other cities in a new development? Chicago is not the first place to consider a Riverwalk – in fact, I wonder what has taken so long, particularly given Chicago’s lauded protection of land along Lake Michigan – but it is difficult to develop completely new ideas. A city does not want to ape other cities but you can likely borrow some if you put your own twist on things.  Gondolas seem too derivative yet is there a Chicago style small boat that fits what you would want in these situations?

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