Saturday, September 22, 2007

1900: The Chicago River flow reversed ...

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Before 1900, the Chicago river flowed into the Lake Michigan ... But in 1900, the flow of the river was reversed ... and now Chicago River originates from Lake Michigan and empties into the Mississippi River System ... It's an engineering marvel! ... But why reverse the flow ???

As many river-towns, the growth of Chicago was along the Chicago River .... However as the city population grew there were problems of water pollution ... as most waste was simply drained into the river. "Because the Chicago River was not a swift moving stream and was often clogged at its mouth by sand, the waste did not flow out into the lake as the residents had hoped. The residents of the city collected their drinking water from collection facilities just offshore in Lake Michigan. With the influx of waste in the river and in their drinking water, outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and other water-borne diseases were common. In 1854, a cholera epidemic took the lives of 5 ½ percent of the population. By the 1890’s almost 1 percent of the population died each year from typhoid. In 1887, the city officials decided to attempt a bold feat of engineering and reverse the flow of the river".

In 1900 the 28-mile canal had been completed, as had the locks that control the flow of water now going from Lake Michigan into the Chicago River, through the Sanitary and Ship Canal, and into the Des Plaines River. This engineering feat has been compared to the building of Panama Canal ... more earth and rocks has been removed than from the Panama project. In 1955 the American Society of Civil Engineers announced that the reversal of the Chicago River was one of the Seven Wonders of engineering in the United States.

Chicago also has a huge water purification plant, I'll bring it's photo later ...

2 comments:

Anthony said...

Can someone help me im doing a history fair project on the reversal of the chicago river and i have a question. My question is why did the people of chicago changed the flow of the chicago river?

Dana said...

It says in the article....