Draining Chicago

Chapter 3 Photos, 45–68

(photos 1–22 here and 23–44 here)

North Shore Channel

DC-Photo 3.45
DC-Photo 3.45

Looking from the west side of the channel southwest of the pumping station, November 25, 1910. Laborers are seen completing the installation of the southwest miter gates for the lock. The pump tunnel flap gates and chains are already in place. In four days, water will be admitted to the channel in advance of the coming winter. The masonry walls of the pumping station are in place, but the windows have yet to be glazed. (MWRD photo 4552)

DC-Photo 3.46
DC-Photo 3.46

The Wilmette Pumping Station and Sheridan Road Bridge viewed from the northwest bank of the channel southwest of the station, May 1916. Stairways leading down from the roadway and the public comfort station under the northwest bridge span have yet to be installed, but the pumps are in operation delivering the required dilution water to the channel. (MWRD photo 5472)

DC-Photo 3.47
DC-Photo 3.47

September 1, 1908. A steam shovel is clearing away soil in the bottom of the excavation resulting from the slide of unstable soil to the right of the steam shovel. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad tracks (presently the CTA Purple Line) on the left in this north-facing view are being relocated temporarily on the diversion tracks on the right so a bridge can be constructed where the tracks pass over the channel. (MWRD photo 3892)

DC-Photo 3.48
DC-Photo 3.48

North view, April 24, 1911. The through-truss and plate girder double-track bridge was completed and in service one year and seven months before this photo, but water has only been in the channel for five months. The Milwaukee Electric railroad used this bridge north of Central Street in Evanston on the right-of-way owned by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad. (MWRD photo 4616)

DC-Photo 3.49
DC-Photo 3.49

April 26, 1909. With the completion of the track diversion to the right mainline tracks, work is just getting underway on the Chicago & North Western railroad Milwaukee Division (presently the Metra Union Pacific/North Line) crossing of the channel The buildings on the right face West Railroad Avenue (later renamed Green Bay Road) near Lincoln Street in Evanston. The houses have been replaced by Haven Middle School and Kingsley Elementary School. (MWRD photo 4092)

DC-Photo 3.50
DC-Photo 3.50

August 15, 1910. The new steel plate girder spans for the Milwaukee Division and the West Railroad Avenue crossings have been completed. Channel excavation has also been completed. Laborers are constructing the concrete struts between the bridge abutments. To allow the West Railroad Avenue Bridge to be built, train travel on the new railroad bridge had to be restored. Tracks for both approaches have been placed on timber trestles until the embankment could be built. (MWRD photo 4441)

DC-Photo 3.51
DC-Photo 3.51

Looking southwest at the Milwaukee Division steel plate girder railroad bridge, April 24, 1911. The plate girder span has been completed as have the approach embankment and tracks. Notice the West Railroad Avenue Bridge in the opening under the railroad bridge. Water has been in the channel for five months; the left foreground shows evidence of side slope failure. (MWRD photo 4621)

DC-Photo 3.52
DC-Photo 3.52

North view, July 12, 1909. The east reinforced concrete abutment for the Chicago & North Western railroad Mayfair Division Bridge is under construction. The tops of circular concrete piers reaching to bedrock are in the foreground and will be covered by an extension of the abutment. A concrete mixer is on top of the bank at right. The abutments are long in the direction of the channel because of the skewed crossing, about 20 degrees. (MWRD photo 4119)

DC-Photo 3.53
DC-Photo 3.53

Both abutments are complete and structural steel erection has begun for the Mayfair Division Bridge. On September 30, 1909, a construction mishap occurred when the timber boom of the derrick lifting a girder failed, dropping the broken boom and girder into the channel between the two abutments. The remaining mast and one strut of the derrick are viewed at right on top of the east abutment. (MWRD photo 4240)

DC-Photo 3.54
DC-Photo 3.54

Looking south from the Mayfair Division Bridge, November 25, 1910. The North Shore Channel will be filled with water in four days. The railroad bridge has been carrying trains for a year; the temporary trestle for the track diversion has been removed. In the left foreground, part of the bridge framing appears spanning between the two abutments and supporting the track bed. The Howard Street Bridge appears in the distance. (MWRD photo 4566)

DC-Photo 3.55
DC-Photo 3.55

Looking east along a strip of land south of Central Street in Evanston, September 21, 1908. The top soil has been removed prior to construction of a diversion for Central Street, which is barely visible at left along the telephone poles. Trolley tracks and pavement will be laid down for the diversion on land that was part of a golf course. In the center background, also barely visible in the haze, is the Central Street railroad depot on the Milwaukee Electric line. (MWRD photo 3903)

DC-Photo 3.56
DC-Photo 3.56

A trolley heads east on the completed Central Street Bridge, April 26, 1909. This bridge, originally a three span steel plate girder structure with steel cross beams, oak sub-floor, and creosote paving blocks, has been replaced with a modern concrete and steel bridge. Trolleys have been replaced with buses. The plume of steam at left is coming from a steam shovel excavating the channel underneath the south side of the bridge. (MWRD photo 4090)

DC-Photo 3.57
DC-Photo 3.57

West view, July 12, 1909. Oakton Street is not much more than a rutted wagon road. Laborers are excavating shafts for three of the four piers for the road bridge over the channel. The clay is dug by hand and hoisted by hand-winch to the surface. The earthen sides of the shaft are supported by wood planks held by circular rings inside the shaft. The pier is formed by filling the shaft with reinforced concrete. (MWRD photo 4121)

DC-Photo 3.58
DC-Photo 3.58

District laborers are constructing the concrete strut between the two opposing north piers on either side of the channel under the Linden Avenue Bridge, August 15, 1910. The strut between the two south piers has been completed. The strut resists the lateral pressure of the channel side slope on the vertical pier; without them, the piers might move toward the center of the channel. This bridge is another example of a steel plate girder road bridge. (MWRD photo 4487)

DC-Photo 3.59
DC-Photo 3.59

A stiff-leg derrick is used to lift and place structural steel members in erecting the Emerson Street Bridge, April 26, 1909. Both structural steel bents have been placed on the tops of the piers; the west approach span is being assembled. The next girder to be lifted into place lies on the channel bank under the west approach. At left is the temporary trestle bridge for the Emerson Street diversion. (MWRD photo 4093)

DC-Photo 3.60
DC-Photo 3.60

May 24, 1910. Erecting the superstructure steel for the truss-type Argyle Street Bridge using a stiff-leg derrick. This north view shows the bents on top of the substructure piers are reinforced concrete construction. The surrounding land is floodplain, hence, the high abutments also founded on deep piers to hardpan clay. The North Branch Dam is in the background behind the east bent of the bridge. (MWRD photo 4364)

DC-Photo 3.61
DC-Photo 3.61

Laborers are tearing up the wooden deck of the Oakton Street Bridge, October 14, 1921. Before the use of concrete for bridge decks, wood was the material of choice, but it only had a five- to ten-year life, requiring more frequent replacement. To the west, in the left background, on the south side of Oakton Street, are a building, elevated water tank, and gas holding tank, part of the Public Service Company of Northern Illinois’s manufactured gas plant, built in 1910. (MWRD photo 8509.5)

DC-Photo 3.62
DC-Photo 3.62

View of the channel looking northeast from near Emerson Street, May 3, 1911, with the Brown Street Bridge in the background. Water has been flowing in the channel for less than a month. Spoil piles were prevalent along the channel west and south of West Railroad Avenue. Most of this spoil was eventually removed by the National Brick Company and used in the manufacture of bricks. (MWRD photo 4645)

DC-Photo 3.63
DC-Photo 3.63

View looking north from the east side of the Argyle Street Bridge, May 9, 1911. The District’s work boat is in the foreground; the North Branch Dam and Foster Avenue Bridge are in the background. A person is walking along the path west of the channel, and water is flowing under the bridge from the dam and the Wilmette Pumping Station. Only one sewer was known to have been discharging to the channel as of this time. (MWRD photo 4651)

DC-Photo 3.64
DC-Photo 3.64

Shuttered dinkie locomotives on the rail siding south of Hill Street (later renamed Maple Avenue) in Wilmette, May 8, 1913. The District’s storage of equipment and unused construction material along the channel right-of-way for several years after completion of channel construction drew complaints from neighbors and the village. The area wasn’t cleaned up until near the end of the decade. Some of the equipment was eventually transferred to and used on the Calumet-Sag Channel. (MWRD photo 4816)

DC-Photo 3.65
DC-Photo 3.65

Many boats are using Wilmette Harbor in this 1938 aerial photograph. The harbor appears the same as constructed by the District. The state transferred ownership of most of the landfill, Gilson Park, to the Wilmette Park District in 1911. The District retained ownership of a small area on each side of the harbor, which it then leased. (MWRD aerial photo archives)

DC-Photo 3.66
DC-Photo 3.66

Wilmette Harbor in this 2009 aerial photograph appears much different with the extension of the inlet channel into the lake, significant accretion of sand both north and south of the inlet channel, and many more boats. (Wilmette Harbor Association photo)

DC-Photo 3.67
DC-Photo 3.67

The Wilmette Pumping Station was rehabilitated by the District in 2012 and 2013. This November 5, 2014, view of the harbor side shows the rebuilt intake structure with four sluice gate motor operators above the four water tunnels. At left is the former lock chamber, now used as another water passage. (Photo by the author)

DC-Photo 3.68
DC-Photo 3.68

July 4, 2014. The channel side of the Wilmette Pumping Station shows four sluice gate motor operators above the four water tunnels from left to center. Sluice gates at both ends of the water tunnels allow dewatering of the tunnels for maintenance. The two tunnels at left contain pumps; the pumps have been removed in the two tunnels to the right. (Photo by the author)