The Chicago Lakefront Path

The Chicago Lakefront Path

By Ria Roberts

Chicago, the home of Hero headquarters, revels in its lack of geographic variation. As is reflective of the city’s laconic nature, there are only the most minimal distractions in the landscape. The lakefront is the exception. It is what separates us from Rockford.

This apathy towards landscape is often echoed by an apathy towards public space. Many Chicagoans have access to a front yard, a back yard, or at the very least a beer garden and tend to relegate their outdoor activities to these private confines. The lakefront is the exception.

The Chicago Lakefront Path has an impressive Yelp rating of 4.5 stars (based on 120 reviews). It has been called “breathtaking” by various Internet sources. The path runs from Kathy Osterman Beach at Hollywood Avenue to 71st street, spanning 18.5 miles that include the Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, Puptown Dog Park, something called Magic Hedge, and a slew of other recreational sites, catering to whatever pursuits of wholesome leisure Chicagoans might desire.

One of the best and most popular uses of the path is for cycling. It is an uninterrupted stretch with infinite-looking water on one side (except on the days when you can see Indiana) and an expansive view of the city’s skyline on the other. It is a Hero’s dream.

Heroically, Nike Ajax, the world’s first guided surface-to-air missile system, was installed at both Montrose Beach and 31st and Lake Shore Drive in the early 1950s. Its purpose was to protect the Midwest from those pesky Cold War era air to ground attacks. The Russians never came for us and the missiles have been removed.

Last year, a different Nike became a sponsor of the path. Because of their $100,000 donation, the new, more legible mile marker signs now prominently feature the Nike logo, lending an air of corporate patronage once reserved for the likes of the yellow jersey. As the Heroes systematically dominate the city, one can only wonder how long it will be until Le Coq Sportif prompts us as to how many miles we have ridden.