The plans include new looks for each of the six blocks from State Street west to Lake Street.
Each block will also have its own name.
There will be restaurants, retail space and a theater.
A boardwalk will also bring people from Upper Wacker Drive down to the Riverwalk level.
"I want to make the Chicago River the next recreational frontier for the City of Chicago, to compliment what we're doing in our neighborhoods," said Mayor Emanuel.
Work will begin next summer.
The project should be finished by 2016.
The city received a $100 million federal loan for the Riverwalk.