Chicago is one of the greenest major cities in the United States; having over 8,100 acres of parks and green space, winning international awards for its environmental agendas, and ranking number one in LEED certified buildings. Since Chicago has been incorporated, the city has taken steps to protect the environment. During the Industrial Revolution, Chicago fought hard to solve the city’s pollution problem with its rapidly growing population. After the Great Chicago Fire, the city pioneered sustainable architecture that would be resilient to disasters. The rebuilding of the city gave city planners and architects an opportunity to incorporate green space into city plans. This era is often described as the City Beautiful Movement, which integrated beautification and green space in urban planning during the late 19th century. Architect and city planner, Daniel Burnham introduced the Chicago Plan, which declared that every citizen should be within walking distance of a park and that the Lakefront belonged to the people.
Today Burnham’s vision continues to guide the city’s urban planning. Mayor Emanuel exclaims, “I want Chicago to be the greenest city in the world, and I am committed to fostering opportunities for Chicagoans to make sustainability a part of their lives and their experience in the city.”
Earth Day is observed on April 22nd of every year, reminding us to protect and celebrate our environment. This Earth Day take time to enjoy the city’s natural preserves – with over 58 parks, a world class zoo, a bird sanctuary dedicated to 250 migratory birds, and 26 miles of public lakefront it should be effortless.