Chicago is known for being a metropolitan area characterized by industrial fixtures, skyscraping buildings, metal, and steel. But it has its share of green spaces that are beneficial to the environment and provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Now that spring is here, these spaces are in full bloom making them must-visit destinations. Let’s review a few of the Chicago green spaces and roofs you can check out when you’re exploring the city.

Green Spaces in Chicago

Green Spaces in Chicago - Exelon Observatory at The 606
Lurie Garden, Millennium Park, The Loop

Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum:

Cemeteries may creep some people out, but for others, they are a peaceful escape. The Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum is especially lovely as it is filled with over 2000 trees and 50 species. It is also the resting place of notable people like Potter Palmer, Marshall Field, and Daniel Burnham.

Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool:

The Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. Once an aviary exhibit at the zoo, it is now a natural area characterized by pavilions and rocky trails that surround the noted Lilly pool. It has been named as a National Historic Landmark.

Exelon Observatory at The 606:

The 606 is an elevated track that was converted into a pedestrian and bike path dotted with lovely foliage and art installations. The Observatory sits at the western end of the trail and serves as an ideal area for stargazing. Resident astronomer Joe Guzman hosts observation sessions with telescopes at the site every second Friday of the month during the spring and summer.

Milton L. Olive III Park:

This waterfront park offers awe-inspiring views of the Navy Pier and Oak State Beach. It was designed by Dan Kiley to commemorate Milton L. Olive, a Chicago native, Viet Nam vet, and the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor. Its tall trees and lake make it the perfect destination for weddings and nature walks.

South Garden at Art Institute of Chicago:

The Art Institute is full of places to explore. If you are strolling around the grounds, you may stumble across the South Garden which sits in a sunken oasis surrounded by stately trees. It features a pool and the stunning Fountain of the Great Lakes sculpture by Larado Taft which sits against the vine-covered wall.

Green Roofs in Chicago

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum - Bird
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum - whole view
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum - butterfly

Chicago’s many buildings don’t leave a lot of space for green areas, so green roofs are becoming a popular trend. Don’t miss out on a chance to visit these destinations.

City Hall Rooftop:

The rooftop of City Hall was converted into a 38,800 square foot garden back in 2001. It was one of the first of its kind used to reduce the effects of urban heat. It is home to about 20,000 plants and 150 species. It is not open to the public, but tours can be arranged.

Millennium Park:

Millennium Park covers two parking garages, a rail station, and Harris Theater. It spans a total of 24.5 acres making it the largest green roof in the world. It is covered in lush vegetation including its Lurie Garden.

Soldier Field:

The rooftop garden on Soldier Field was part of the venue’s renovation project. It spans nine acres and includes a Children’s Garden, a winter sledding hill, and a war memorial wall.

McCormick Place West:

McCormick Place West is the brainchild of the Chicago Botanic Garden and serves as a ‘farm to fork’ vegetable and herb garden. It is 20,000 square feet and produces about 4,000 pounds of fresh produce a year. Organizers are hoping to increase that number to 8,000 or even 12,000 pounds a year.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum:

This teaching and learning center is covered with a five-roof rooftop system.  Each roof has its own interpretive design. They are made to serve as exhibits to educate visitors about the applications and benefits of green design.

Green Buildings in Chicago

AquaGraphic Via Wired

There are also several buildings in Chicago that are designed as sustainable options for living and working. Below is a couple:

The Aqua:

The Aqua is one of Chicago’s tallest residential skyscrapers. In addition to its stunning design, it also features a rooftop garden that mitigates urban heat, a botanic garden with a drip irrigation system, and foliage and vegetation that lines its many walkways. Its six levels of underground parking eliminate stormwater runoff and provide further cooling for the building.

Knoll Fulton Market:

Knoll Fulton Market is a Chicago office building that earned a LEED v4 ID+C Commercial Interiors Gold Certification with a score of 74 points. It was also awarded LEED 2009 Core and Shell Certification with a score of 52 points. It provides an authentic experience that reflects the vibe of the vibrant city that surrounds it.

Enjoy Chicago’s Green Spaces

Chicago’s green spaces make it a dynamic city to live in. They add the perfect touch of nature to the metropolitan vibe.

If you are thinking of moving to Chicago for the excitement it provides, I will help you find the ideal property. And with spring being a great time to move, now’s the time to get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.

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