A man rides a bike along a wave-battered lakefront in Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (WTTW News)

The National Weather Service is warning people to steer clear of parks, trails, piers and breakwaters Wednesday and Thursday, with waves as high as 18 feet and wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour in the forecast.

Are safety signs enough? Some activists are calling for life rings along the lakefront. (WTTW News)

CEO Mike Kelly’s announcement reverses the city’s longstanding argument that life rings along the waterfront would encourage people to enter the water and put themselves at risk of injury or death — and make the city liable.

A sign on the Chicago lakefront warns people to avoid potentially dangerous areas, such as piers. (WTTW News)

After recent drownings in Lake Michigan, activists have been clamoring for the Chicago Park District to install life rings along the lakefront, but the agency’s safety plan reinforces messaging surrounding “not safe to swim” locations.

A piece of Lincoln Park's history can be found in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in suburban Darien is roughly 30 miles and a world away from downtown Chicago, but this is where a section of the city’s prized lakefront once rested. 

Volunteers are needed for beach cleanups in September. (Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium)

As beach season winds down in Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium is hosting a series of weekend cleanups to clear the shoreline of a summer’s worth of litter and debris.

A life ring installed on the lakefront by Rogers Park activist Jim Ginderske. (Credit Halle Quezada / Twitter)

After a drowning in Lake Michigan near a Rogers Park beach earlier this month, longtime community activist Jim Ginderske decided to take action in the name of public safety. Now, a local alderperson is joining the effort.

Water safety advocates want flotation devices like life preserver rings or life buoys made available throughout the lakefront. (WTTW News)

Lake Michigan is one of Chicago’s biggest attractions. And while it’s scenic, it’s also sometimes dangerous. What water safety advocates are proposing to stop people from drowning and dying in the lake.

A file photo shows a crime scene blocked off by the Chicago Police Department. (WTTW News)

An Iowa man who was in custody in Chicago after police found a rifle with a laser sight in a hotel room that overlooks a Lake Michigan beach during the July Fourth weekend made bond and then proposed to his girlfriend upon his release.

(WTTW News)

Keegan Casteel, 32, was allegedly found in possession of a loaded rifle with a laser sight and multiple ammunition magazines inside his 12th-floor Chicago hotel room overlooking Ohio Street Beach during the Fourth of July weekend.

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s lakefront is often referred to as one of the city’s crown jewels, and as with many valuable things, it’s been the subject of frequent high-profile political and legal fights. A new history of the lakefront traces more than 150 years of nearly nonstop litigation.

Lane Beach is five-star worthy. (Alexandra Silets / WTTW News)

For three months out of the year, Chicago’s every bit as much of a beach town as Los Angeles or Miami. As we kick off summer 2021, here are some things you might not know about the city’s sandy shore.

(WTTW News)

The city’s lakefront beaches will officially open Friday for the first time since 2019, with lifeguards on duty and concessions returning. 

The Navy Pier flyover. (WTTW News)

The project’s many delays – some due to unexpected maintenance, some to funding availability – became a source of both frustration and humor for trail users and observers, who joked about the flyover taking longer than engineering marvels like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Sears Tower. 

A runner approaches one of the Lake Shore Drive bridge houses on the nearly finished Navy Pier Flyover portion of the lakefront trail, April 30, 2021. (Nick Blumberg / WTTW News)

The long-awaited, sometimes-maligned structure carrying the lakefront trail over Grand Avenue, Illinois Street and the Chicago River has missed its latest target to wrap up in April. But the Chicago Department of Transportation says it’s “very close” to completion.

Repairs are just getting underway on a stretch of lakefront damaged by a storm in January 2020. (Courtesy of Metropolitan Water Reclamation District)

The repair, expected to take six weeks, will consist of piling 1,500 tons of rocks along the shoreline and building a concrete wall to guard against further erosion.

A section of open beach is being added to the protected Montrose Dune Natural Area. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Conservationists are celebrating a big win for wildlife along Chicago’s lakefront, where the expansion of a “treasured” natural area will give more room to some high-profile occupants: a pair of endangered Great Lake piping plovers, Monty and Rose.