Encyclopedia o f Chicago
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
Houses and Water

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Connecting Houses to Water Networks

Riverside Water Tower, 1972

The Riverside Improvement Company sunk a well and built a 108-foot water tower designed by William LeBaron Jenney by 1870. The tower was rebuilt in the 1910s after a fire. It was designated an American Water Landmark in 1972 by the American Waterworks Association. Water from a nearby artesian well was pumped to area houses, making indoor plumbing possible well outside the bounds of the City of Chicago’s water system. Riverside residents soon organized a suburban government to supervise, maintain and extend this water system.

See also: Suburban government; Water Supply

Norwood Park, 1870

A railroad ran near the property owned by the Noble family in the 1850s. In 1869, a group of investors subdivided land near the rail stop named Norwood Park. The investors offered access to well water for potential residents. Problems with area water supply were among the factors that led to the 1893 annexation of this area into the city of Chicago, which eventually provided water access to the old Noble house.

See also: Annexation; Water Supply

Flow Diagram of Water from Lake to You

By the 1920s, the City of Chicago had developed an extensive water system which covered most of its territory. In addition, dozens of suburban systems had emerged to serve settlements along rail lines out from the city center. This 1988 diagram shows the process by which the city draws water from intake cribs miles out in Lake Michigan, purifies the water, and sends it out around the city to pumping stations, which then pump water to individual neighborhoods and houses.

See also: Infrastructure; Tunnels; Water Supply

Water Tower and Pumping Station after the Fire of 1871

The first lake tunnel was completed in 1869 and connected to the Water Tower and Pumping Station at Chicago and Michigan Avenues. Today, multiple lake tunnels and pumping stations constitute Chicago’s water system.

See also: Water Supply; Infrastructure

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