Chicago River

Look at the flow of the Chicago Michigan Bridge in the flow direction west by day ...

And at night ...

The Chicago River is a 251 km long river and flows through Chicago in Illinois. Noteworthy is the reversal of the flow direction in the 19th century, and the green color of the river on St. Patrick 's Day.


Originally the Chicago River flowed into Lake Michigan, so that waste water and other contaminants (including from the booming industry) the clean water, which served to supply the city dirty. This worsened the overall health and finally culminated in a cholera epidemic. From 1871, the drain in the Illinois and Michigan Canal from 1848 was passed, which opened a Chicago waterway connection via the Illinois River and the Mississippi River with the Gulf of Mexico. This channel closed at a bend of the coming of the North Chicago River, a few hundred yards from its junction with Lake Michigan, at. 1900 was built as the centerpiece of the later Illinois Waterway to improve water quality by changing the direction of flow of the river, on a proposal of the environmental engineer Rudolph Hering of " Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal ." This was achieved through a complex system of locks on the previous estuary into Lake Michigan, so that from now on again cleaner drinking water could be recovered from the lake. The new channel will remain largely replaced the Illinois and Michigan Canal, but went according to several kilometers in a separate, new, and wider river bed parallel to the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Since 1933 - the year of retirement of the Illinois and Michigankanals - connects the larger Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal is the only Lake Michigan through the Chicago River with the River Illinois River.

Meanwhile, there is the industrial port in southern Calumet River, making the Chicago River hardly plays a role as a supply road.

Until the 1980s, the Chicago River was considered by many inhabitants as " the stinking river " because it was very dirty and filled with trash. In the 1990s, the river was finally purified on the initiative of Mayor Richard M. Daley in the sense of a city beautification thoroughly.

In 1992, an underground network of old utility tunnel of the Chicago Tunnel Company through a picket " drilled " and mostly flooded.

Each year on St. Patrick 's Day, the flow is by means of a dye ( uranine was used until 2003 ) dyed green. Because of the probable damage caused by oil-based Uranin today vegetable dyes are used.

Wells Street Bridge

Rivers and canals in the Chicago area

Chicago River with the Trump Tower

Chicago River at Night


The Chicago River is spanned by a total of 38 movable bridges of various kinds.