What We Do

Chicago's Lakefront

Chicago's Lakefront


Openlands believes that our lakefront should be public open space, accessible to all with unobstructed views. Chicago’s lakefront provides millions of people with an unparalleled experience of our region.

For more than 50 years, Openlands has advocated for protecting the lakefront, declaring in 1965 that the City’s first task is to preserve it as “the asset that makes Chicago a great, beautiful and unique city.” As development proposals have surfaced, Openlands has consistently raised its voice to protect the lakefront and its valuable park space.

When Chicago gets it right, the result is beloved public space embraced by Chicagoans. Millennium Park and the soon to be finished Maggie Daley Park are perfect examples. In these instances, a mix of public and private funds transformed unsightly railroads and parking lots into true public open spaces.

Openlands supports a thorough review and public process to protect Chicago’s lakefront. We expect the City of Chicago’s Plan Commission to seriously evaluate all proposed projects, such as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, against the criteria put forth in the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance. Openlands believes in the tenets of the ordinance that all of the City’s lakefront should fall under public ownership, and that no private development should be built east of Lake Shore Drive.

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