A dynamic Lake Michigan sunrise with the Chicago skyline in the distance.

The Chicago Lakefront

Humans created the Chicago lakefront — the skyscrapers and museums, but also the beaches, natural areas, and the shape of the coastline.

Chicago’s coastline connects to the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem. Walking along the lakefront, we encounter wildlife, native plants, and stunning vistas — we can also see signs of human actions that impact the health of the Great Lakes.

The ecology of the lakefront has endured extensive transformations, a process made easier by the forceful removal of Indigenous peoples from their land. While altering the earth has provided benefits and conveniences, these actions have also destroyed lives and habitats — contributing to climate change and intensifying its impacts.

About 10% of the U.S. population depends on the Great Lakes for drinking water. Despite this, industrial pollution continually harms the Great Lakes, poisoning this natural resource and negatively affecting the health of those living in the region.

This website uses photography to explore Chicago and its lakefront through ecology, history, and human actions.