North Central College - Naperville, IL

Riverwalk Gateway, Sesquicentennial Walkway to improve pedestrian access

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Riverwalk Gateway
Riverwalk Gateway

North Central College is pleased to partner with the Naperville Riverwalk Commission and Naperville Riverwalk Foundation on a project to improve pedestrian access and beautify the campus for the enjoyment of the community.

The project will enhance the College’s Riverwalk Gateway by creating a landscaped pathway along the east bank of the West Branch of the DuPage River next to Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium. Brick pillars designating the area as an entrance to North Central College will be installed near Fredenhagen Park as part of the project.

“The Riverwalk Gateway improvements will create a seamless entryway to campus,” says Rick Spencer, North Central College’s vice president for institutional advancement. “People who enjoy the Riverwalk will be able to see the downtown’s connection to the College and continue walking on through the campus.”

The Riverwalk Gateway improvements are scheduled to begin this summer and will include installation of seating areas and brick pathways.

“This will help pedestrians connect between downtown Naperville and the College, especially for big community events like the Crosstown Classic,” says Jeff Havel, Riverwalk Commission chairman.

The annual Wes Spencer Crosstown Classic is played at the College’s Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium between the two high schools in Naperville Community Unit School District 203. The College also hosts the annual Prairie Classic contest between Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley high schools in Indian Prairie School District 204.

A second phase of the project will invite walkers, joggers and runners to explore North Central’s campus by improving the Sesquicentennial Walkway—a north-south pathway between Brainard and Loomis streets that extends from just north of Chicago Avenue to Benton Avenue. The Sesquicentennial Walkway improvements are scheduled for 2012 and will include burying overhead power lines and installation of brick pavers and landscaping.

The College, Riverwalk Commission and Riverwalk Foundation will invite community members to volunteer their labor during construction. Monetary donations also will be sought.

“The beauty of this partnership is that 30 years ago, the Riverwalk was created with a lot of sweat, community pride and involvement,” Spencer says. “It’s appropriate that the same spirit of volunteerism be a part of this project.”

Considered the “crown jewel” of Naperville, the beautiful and tranquil Riverwalk features 1.75 miles of brick paths, fountains, bridges, meeting and event places, outdoor sculpture and artwork, recreational facilities, and celebratory memorials. The Riverwalk was created in 1981 as a permanent commemorative to honor Naperville’s 150th anniversary.

Embraced as a gathering place for all ages, the Riverwalk is a linear park and focal point of the community.  Its covered bridges, fountains, landscaping and distinctive shepherd’s crook light poles are symbolic of Naperville’s ties to its historic past as the oldest settlement in DuPage County. In the early 1980s, residents donated their time, money and materials to transform a once-forgotten riverfront into a beautiful park that is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. The Riverwalk is highlighted with exceptional amenities along its path, including the stunning beauty of Fredenhagen Park with its landmark clock tower and Exchange Club Memories Fountain.

Through the years, the City of Naperville and the Naperville Park District have maintained agreements with the Riverwalk Commission and Foundation for the maintenance and preservation of this important landmark. In much the same way that the Riverwalk was created, through community partnerships, its legacy is protected through these cooperative relationships.

In addition to North Central College’s Cornerstone Week activities, numerous Sesquicentennial events and projects are planned throughout 2011 and into 2012. Visit for additional details.

To see additional beautification plans and make a gift, please visit the Legacy Project.

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes. Visit to learn more.