Photography

The Chicago River at Michigan Avenue

As you walk across the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River, the view to the west is both iconic and stunning. Whenever I’m here, I want to make photographs.

Chicago River
Chicago River
Chicago River
Chicago River
Chicago River

Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor

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11 thoughts on “The Chicago River at Michigan Avenue

  1. Andy Umbo says:

    Still very “film like” look out of that Df…always love the views of the river when I’m back in my home town.

  2. basil berchekas says:

    What’s intriguing about the riverfront sites in front of the London Guarantee Building (the site of the original Fort Dearborn) is that the lowest level of the riverfront cafes by the river was the original land level when Chicago was founded. Then in the early 1850s Chicago’s buildings were jacked upward and sewers were connected underneath and land fill from the then recently completed Illinois and Michigan Canal (connecting the Chicago Portage for uninterrupted river traffic) was filled under the buildings and then the streets, raising the ground level. Chicago’s “prairie” topography didn’t allow for natural sewage flow so what is now the downtown area had to be raised to allow for sewage flow. George Pullman who later made Pullman rail cars made his first “fortune” owning the jack company that raised Chicago’s land level. He alone agreed with the Boston engineer that recommended buildings would have to raised to let a sewer system “work” there. That land level was raised again but I don’t know when, by whom, or the reason for it. The 1850s “uplift” would have placed the new level about halfway up from the river level to the sidewalks where they are today. Just trivia!

  3. basil berchekas says:

    Thanks! I read this in the “Encyclopedia of Chicago (online for free) discussion of the history and status of Chicago’s sewer and water systems. Here’s quotes therefrom:

    Disposal has proven more difficult. In the early nineteenth century, the Chicago River ordinarily was little more than a creek, with banks lying two feet above the water. Normally sluggish, the river discharged large volumes of water in times of heavy rains or melting snows through its short main trunk into Lake Michigan. Chicago’s random waste disposal methods led to a succession of cholera and dysentery epidemics. In 1852, Illinois’s legislature empowered sewage commissioners to supervise the installation of sewers in the most densely settled districts and the digging of ditches in the remainder. In 1855 the Board of Sewerage Commissioners was formally charged with supervising the existing sewage and drainage scheme and planning a coordinated system for the future. Systematic sewage disposal and drainage was unknown in the United States, and in 1855 Chicago was in a position to become the first large American city to build a comprehensive sewer system.

    Chesbrough designed a combined sewer system (one that collects wastes from both residences and streets) that emptied into the Chicago River. Drainage was to be accomplished by gravity, but Chicago’s flat topography proved unfavorable to sewer construction. In reality, the task of constructing underground sewers required raising the city’s grade. As sewer construction progressed away from the river, the streets had to be raised. The sewers were laid on top of the ground, then earth largely dredged from the river was filled in around them, covering them entirely. New, paved streets were constructed above the sewers.”

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