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
Constructing the Sanitary and Ship Canal

Before and After

The construction of the Sanitary and Ship Canal was an enormous undertaking, but with an equally enormous reward: reversal of the flow of the Chicago River. By 1907 a new water connection had been created between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. As Isham Randolph, the canal's chief engineer described:

There was daring, there was genius

There was brain and there was brawn

And from their gendered labor

Twas a River that was born

Before and After Water Release on the Sanitary and Ship Canal, January 16, 1900

The landscape changed dramatically with the construction of the main channel of the Sanitary and Ship Canal and then was transformed again when water was released into the channel.

See also: Water, Sanitary and Ship Canal

Santa Fe Railroad Bridge at Lemont, October 18, 1899

In all, 13 new bridges had to be constructed so that existing roads and railroads could traverse the space now occupied by the canal. This view shows the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge before water is released into the channel below it.

See also: Lemont, Bridges

Santa Fe Railroad Bridge at Lemont, April 3, 1900

This is a view of the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge after water has been released into the channel in the winter of 1900.

See also: Lemont, Bridges