The pond just to the south of the Lincoln Park Zoo has been tranformed. In recent years, when it was called the South Pond, it's been a mildly crumbling thing, with narrow shores along the Farm in the Zoo, 70s-style paddles boats that I never quite understood, and brackish, shallow water.
They've been working on it for some time. Here's the work in progress from June 2009:
And now it's done-- the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo at 1900 North Stockton Drive.
There's a ton of info about the boardwalk over here, including a hefty magazine explaining the rationale behind the the design of the area.
That's the thing-- it's a whole series of "places" that make you feel differently based on how you approach them.
There's the boardwalk itself, which has a great thumping thickness to it when you walk or bike along it.
Then there's how the space interfaces with the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial. Even though he turns his head on the boardwalk:
...the passageway spills nicely into the new space:
The odd wood and fiberglass shell of the Peoples Gas Education Pavilion, ("designed to resemble a turtle’s scutes") is a wonder, and it seems to nearly match the radius of the Grant passage:
This is a wonderful new(ish) space. It makes me feel great that Chicago continues to develop great outdoor spaces.