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According to an excellent account on the Walsh Construction website of the challenges faced in rebuilding the Riverwalk, the first step was to completely demolish all the existing sidewalks.
A continuous steel sheet pile retaining wall was constructed across from the existing dock wall.
A new edge was constructed 25 feet into the 200-foot-wide river, with steel piles pounded into the river at 10-foot intervals. Large pumps removed the water, and tons of crushed stone brought in to replace it.
Pour le Concrete: Chicago's New Riverwalk Emerges
2015, January: Winter II
2015, May: Workers put finishing touches to the Dearborn Street gateway for Saturday, May 23rd's opening.
State to Dearborn, The Marina
Dearborn to Clark, The Cove
Finishing the Chicago Riverwalk, Part Two: Opera on the River? (or Maybe just Some Jazz).
Finishing the Riverwalk, Conclusion: Swimming Holes and Wolf Calls