City Honors Friends' 40th: 'Generations Now Value Chicago River'

Friends of the Chicago River was honored by the Chicago City Council April 10 with a resolution recognizing our four decades of improving and protecting the Chicago River system.

Accepting on behalf of the organization were Friends' Executive Director Margaret Frisbie, Friends' Director of Watershed Planning John Quail, Friends' board vice presidents Cy H. Griffith and James Mark Jr., board director Richard Wilson, and Robert Cassidy, who helped launch the organization in 1979 with a Chicago magazine cover story, "Our Friendless River."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who sponsored the resolution, met with the group ahead of the City Council vote, praising Friends' successes.

The resolution noted that Friends "has worked on behalf of the Chicago River system to raise overall water quality, foster healthier wildlife habitat, reduce flooding, and raise awareness of combined sewer overflows," adding that "generations of Chicagoans now value the Chicago River as a natural resource."

Emanuel has been largely supportive of Friends' mission. As a mayoral candidate, he embraced sewage effluent disinfection. As mayor, the City completed the Chicago Riverwalk, built new boat houses, trails, and underbridge and over river connections, and established the Chicago River Ecology and Governance Group to institutionalize ecologically sensitive riverbank improvement and protection.

Just days before the proclamation passed, Emanuel told reporters at the opening of the REI store at 900 West Eastman St. Chicago, "The Chicago River defines Chicago's past. It's going to define Chicago's future."