Encyclopedia ofChicago
Interpretive Digital Essay : Water in Chicago
Essay: People and the Port
Photo Essays:
Solitary Lives
City of Bridges
Chicago Harbors
Essay: Using the Chicago River
Photo Essays:
Goose Island
Indiana Dunes
Essay: Sanitation in Chicago
Photo Essays:
The Sanitary and Ship Canal
Water-Related Epidemics
Essay: Water and Urban Life
Photo Essays:
Houses and Water
Shoreline Development
Growing Up Along Water
City of Bridges

Rivers have been a vital part of the Chicago region’s economic success. They have also been a potent barrier to urban development. The main branch of the Chicago River and its two branches divided Chicago from its earliest years into three parts: north division, west division, and south division. The conflict between the river as a harbor and the river as a barrier to intracity transportation played out over and over again over the course of Chicago’s history. The same conflict emerged when harbor traffic moved south to the Calumet River and region. Across the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, river traffic took precedence over land travel. Because sailing and steam ships needed clear access on waterways at the same places that people and vehicles needed to cross them, bridges had to be movable. Chicago engineers met these challenges in innovative ways.

Photo Essay Sections:

basic bridge types
building a bridge
rush street
bridges
calumet river bridges