Encyclopedia o f Chicago

Historical Sources : Bound Volume
Historical Source
Typhoid Fever and Water Supply in Chicago, 1902

Typhoid Fever and Water Supply in Chicago, 1902
By 1902, the opening of the Sanitary and Ship Canal had allowed for the permanent reversal of the Chicago River. As water flowed out of the lake in the river, it was assumed that the overall water supply for Chicago was improved. However, by the early twentieth century, scientists understood more clearly that bacteria contaminated water and caused diseases like cholera and typhoid. In this report by Edwin Oakes Jordan, a professor of bacteriology at the University of Chicago, filtration is raised as a means to eliminate bacteria that could not be tasted or smelled. Jordan argued that Chicago’s place as a rail center made the need for a safe water supply even more essential.