Gone were the virgin prairie and savanna, replaced by the perfectly aligned grid of Chicago streets. The city’s geometric design was interspersed with wide boulevards and parks, and transected by a network of manmade waterways, roads and rail lines, branching out of the city center to the suburbs and beyond. As urbanization steadily progressed, so did a small but solidifying movement to better understand, embrace and advocate for the environment and local ecosystem. These efforts would continue to grow and influence the ways in which the city interacts with its natural environment in the decades to come, shaping the lives of all of its residents: flora, fauna, and even that family strolling through the zoo on a warm fall day in 2019, pausing in the shade of a great old oak tree near the gibbon yard.
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