Underneath the southern building of the old Montgomery Ward complex, 758 N. Larrabee
Saturday night I led a group of cyclists to Won Kow, 2237 S. Wentworth in Chinatown, for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Afterwards people wanted to go hang out at Delilah’s, a punk rock bourbon bar at 2771 N. Lincoln in Lincoln Park. Remembering that the Halsted Bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River is currently under construction, I recalled a cool riverside route we could take from downtown to Division and Halsted, bypassing the missing bridge.
I stumbled upon this route a few months ago while exploring bits and pieces of riverwalk and riverside bike paths which I hope to eventually string together into a tranquil itinerary from the Loop to the start of the North Branch Trail on the far Northwest Side. My companions on the Chinatown ride seemed to dig this “secret” path, so I thought I’d share it with Grid Chicago readers. Here’s a Google map of the route. You might try it next time you’re traveling from downtown to Lincoln Park or Wicker Park.
Map of the stealth route from the Loop to Division and Halsted
From the Loop, take the bike-friendly Franklin/Orleans bridge north over the main branch of the Chicago river and proceed past the Merchandise Mart, rolling downhill to Hubbard Street, 400 N.
Head west on Hubbard a block to Kingsbury Street, 400 W., and the East Bank Club, the fancy schmancy gym where Rahm Emanuel trains for triathlons.
Turn north and continue a few blocks up Kingsbury, under the Ohio feeder of the Kennedy Expressway, to Ontario Street, 630 N. You’re now at Erie Park, a recently created green space that’s refreshingly hilly.
Ride west on the sidewalk at the south end of the park to a curving riverwalk that hugs the North Branch of the Chicago River. Turn north on this path and continue along the river for a couple of blocks, heading underneath the southern building of the old Montgomery Ward Company complex.
Soon you’ll come to the bridge house for the Chicago Avenue Bridge, which you’ll actually ride through, passing by the huge, yellow gears of the lifting apparatus as you take tight turns through the dungeon-like space.
You’ll emerge underneath the northern Montgomery Ward building at 600 W. Chicago, now home to 298 luxury condos, a gym, spa, restaurants and other businesses, plus offices for Wrigley and Groupon. You’ll pass right by the outdoor seating area for the swanky Franco-Japanese eatery Japonais – lock up at the nearby bike rack and duck in for a saketini if the mood strikes you.
Continuing north, watching out for pedestrians emerging from the various storefronts along the riverwalk, you’ll see the south end of Goose Island to your left, home to a garage for Greyhound buses. As you come to the end of the path you’ll see the blue arches of the recently opened new bridge on Halsted over the North Branch Canal.
You’ll be passing a line of three-story townhouses; just past the one labeled 1017, head east up a small ramp and take a winding sidewalk up a small hill to a circular green space.
Take a hard left on the sidewalk, which will take you to Hobbie Street, 1030 North. Head east a block on Hobbie to Crosby Street, 630 West, where you’ll catch a nice view of the Hancock Center, currently lit up red and green. Here’s a blurb I wrote for Time Out Chicago about how they do this.
Roll north on Crosby two blocks to the giant vacant lot where several towers of the Cabrini Green housing project stood until the last one was demolished last spring. A sign is posted by the site giving public notice of an application for a zoning change, although the writing is rain-smeared and hard to decipher.
Turn west on Division Street, 1200 North, and pedal one block to Halsted. From here you can proceed west to Wicker Park or North to Lincoln Park. I hope you’ve enjoyed your stealthy tour of Chicago’s riverfront.