CHICAGO
04/22/2013 05:11 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2013

Earth Day Chicago 2013: The Greening Of Chicago And The City's Future As An Eco-Friendly Leader

Alamy

It seems almost weekly that a new crop of cities is duking it out for the superlative title of "greenest" — and in the past decade, Chicago has steadily climbed the ranks of cities with the most Earth-friendly bragging rights.

In the 20th century, the Windy City's reputation was largely as an industrial capital. Thanks to massive municipal greening efforts like investments in miles of bike lanes and urban farms, 21st century Chicago has gained ground on green leaders like Portland and San Francisco.

As of 2013, just how green is Chicago now?

(See some of Chicago's sustainable bragging rights, below.)

Three years back, National Geographic touted the town as a modern "model of livability and environmental stewardship."

Since then, Chicago has opened the "greenest street in America," had a long-time neighborhood eatery named the most Earth-friendly in the business, and is even on track (finally) to have city-wide recycling by year's end. Even author Rachel Shteir, in her recent New York Times hit piece on the Windy City, had nice things to say about the lakefront and Millennium Park.

Speaking on Chicago's green and sustainability efforts, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has stated he wants the city to be "the greenest city in the world, and I am committed to fostering opportunities for Chicagoans to make sustainability a part of their lives and their experience in the city."

Part of the mayor's sustainability and greening push is a 24-point plan with specific goals to meet by 2015. As envisioned by Emanuel, the green and thriving future of Chicago includes an upgrade to the city's electrical infrastructure, promoting the use of green materials for new constructions, turning the city into a haven for biking and walking as means of active transit and (very ambitiously) cleaning up the Chicago River to make it a "second waterfront."

In addition to the Mayor's office capitalizing on Monday's Earth Day movement to announce those blue recycling carts really are going city-wide by year's end, ABC Chicago reports. The Chicago Department of Aviation announced it was adopting a new "green" concessions policy and guide which, in part, bans all petroleum-based plastic bags at O'Hare and Midway.

Chicago: America's Green City

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