West by Southwest to Stickney

Chapter 5 Photos, 33–62

(photos 1–32 here)

Draining the Central Area

Photo 5.33
Photo 5.33

Looking north on October 10, 1940. In front of the east elevation of the southwest corner of Pershing Road and State Street, the sewer connection to Southwest intercepting sewer section 10 has been completed and the excavation backfilled. After allowing time for settlement, the sheeting will be cut down and the curb and sidewalk replaced. (MWRD photo 26405)

Photo 5.34
Photo 5.34

January 6, 1941. The site of connection construction has been restored, leaving little evidence of what went on over the past five months. One or two manhole covers are under the ice and debris that can be used for access to the underground connection and control structure on Southwest intercepting sewer section 10. (MWRD photo 26675)

Photo 5.35
Photo 5.35

August 10, 1936. Steel reinforcement has been placed and concrete is being poured for the sewer invert. The concrete is poured using a hopper and drop chute held overhead by a crane at right. Close to the Sanitary & Ship Canal, West Town’s outlet sewer section 1 was constructed by the open cut method. The vertical walls of clay were sufficiently stiff so as not to need bracing. The clay wall also was the exterior form for concrete side walls of the sewer. (MWRD photo 21914)

Photo 5.36
Photo 5.36

After the concrete invert is cured, reinforcement bars and forms are set for the sewer side walls and crown of West Towns outlet sewer section 1. On August 27, 1936, it is less than three weeks since the concrete invert was finished. In present-day construction, sheeting would be driven to support excavated trench walls for large sewers. (MWRD photo 22029)

Photo 5.37
Photo 5.37

Looking south in the south heading on January 29, 1937. Miners are excavating clay on two levels. Heavy-duty steel plate liners are used to support the clay when passing under the railroad due to the additional loading. The tunnel method was used for West Towns outlet sewer section 1 to pass under the Chicago & Illinois Western Railroad. (MWRD photo 22744)

Photo 5.38
Photo 5.38

Looking north on April 22, 1937, near the bottom of the access shaft at East Avenue and Windsor Street. Miners are excavating a pilot tunnel in rock to pass under the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (present-day BNSF Railway). Above the top of rock, steel sheeting in the shaft holds back unconsolidated overburden. The north or upstream end of West Towns outlet sewer section 1 was built using the tunnel method. (MWRD photo 23017)

Photo 5.39
Photo 5.39

Three weeks later, May 11, 1937, looking south and down into the same shaft in the prior photograph. The portal of the 12.4-foot by 13.8-foot West Towns outlet sewer section 1 has been completed. When the use of this shaft is no longer needed for construction, the sewer will be extended through the shaft bottom, the shaft backfilled, and the street restored. (MWRD photo 23080)

Photo 5.40
Photo 5.40

Looking north on April 16, 1936. Steel sheeting is being driven for a shaft on East Avenue north of Sixteenth Street. This shaft will completely close this block of East Avenue for the duration of construction West Towns outlet sewer section 2 was also built by the tunnel method and several access shafts were installed along the route. (MWRD photo 21050)

Photo 5.41
Photo 5.41

August 6, 1936. The bottom of a shaft on West Towns outlet sewer section 2 shows how the rail car tracks diverge around the center support so that two rail cars can be raised or lowered at the same time. The two struts in the right pass, not normally in place, provide support for the structure above. In addition to the two hoists for rail cars, a man lift is out of view in the side of the shaft. (MWRD photo 21831)

Photo 5.42
Photo 5.42

August 6, 1936. The construction crew takes a break for the photographer in West Towns outlet sewer section 2. Steel reinforcing bars are being installed before placing the concrete for the sewer invert. Steel ribs support the wall and crown of the tunnel in the clay soil. The tunnel heading in the background is typical of the texture of the soft blue clay that underlays the Chicago lake plain. (MWRD photo 21834)

Photo 5.43
Photo 5.43

West Towns outlet sewer section 2 has been completed by April 29, 1937, including the smaller short branch sewer in Thirteenth Street. Looking northeast, the main 12-foot sewer will be flowing from the north and the 6-foot branch from the east. Ladder rungs embedded in the side walls will be useful to steady laborers who may have to perform maintenance in the sewer. (MWRD photo 23030)

Photo 5.44
Photo 5.44

Looking south on April 7, 1937. The outfall construction site has been flooded when the canal rose and overtopped the cofferdam. A portable pump is dewatering the site so that construction can resume. West Towns outlet sewer section 3 included construction of an outfall on the Sanitary & Ship Canal and several sewer connections on sections 1 and 2. (MWRD photo 22887)

Photo 5.45
Photo 5.45

Looking north on April 7, 1937. The flooded outfall construction site has backed water up to the start of West Towns outlet sewer section 1. Another portable pump is assisting in dewatering the site. A short distance inside the completed sewer, but not visible, a bulkhead restricts floodwater from encroaching farther upstream in the completed sewer. (MWRD photo 22891)

Photo 5.46
Photo 5.46

Looking north on May 11, 1937. A 5-foot village of Stickney sewer is connected via a drop structure and manhole shown at right. A trench is being excavated under the village sewer for a short connecting sewer leading to the manhole. One of several connections included in West Towns outlet sewer section 3 was at Ogden Ditch, about 4400 South. (MWRD photo 23118)

Photo 5.47
Photo 5.47

Looking upstream or north on May 11, 1937, from the large outfall sewer showing the downstream side of two timber backwater gates on West Towns outlet sewer section 3. Hinged at the top, the backwater gates will swing open to discharge combined sewage and stormwater to the canal when the water level in the sewer is higher than the water level in the canal. (MWRD photo 23120)

Photo 5.48
Photo 5.48

Looking downstream or south on May 11, 1937, from inside the West Towns outlet sewer section 3 gate chamber. The backwater gates are shown above the diversion channel to the left. Dry weather sewage flow will be diverted to the Salt Creek intercepting sewer and the West Side plant. The invert of the sewer is below the water level in the canal and the gates prevent canal water from entering the sewer. (MWRD photo 23119)

Photo 5.49
Photo 5.49

May 11, 1937. The sun is shining through the access manhole above and through floor manholes into the gate chamber. Access to the backwater gates on West Towns outlet sewer section 3 is through the operating gallery above the gate chamber. (MWRD photo 23121)

Photo 5.50
Photo 5.50

Through loans from the Works Progress Administration, the District was able to perform rehabilitation and repair of existing infrastructure. In WPA Project 44, repairs were made in the 1600 block of South East Avenue to a village of Berwyn sewer and water main, October 18, 1947, which was damaged as a result of settlement following construction of the West Towns outlet sewer. (MWRD photo 29066)

Photo 5.51
Photo 5.51

Looking west on July 23, 1940. The first step in construction of the Racine Avenue Pumping Station was constructing a sheet pile dock wall to close off the remaining part of the East Fork. A small channel was left to receive the discharge of stormwater. The station will be built on the vacant land west of the dock wall. The long-gone Iron Street bridge over the West Arm is in the background. (MWRD photo 26100)

Photo 5.52
Photo 5.52

The first expansion of the Racine Avenue Pumping Station occurred in the 1950s. During installation of the second set of six motors and pumps in October 1954, the station was inundated, causing a delay. This undated photograph was taken from the south balcony looking north. (MWRD unnumbered photo)

Photo 5.53
Photo 5.53

A view of the flooded Racine Avenue Pumping Station during installation of the second set of six motors and pumps in October 1954, taken from the balcony at the north end of the station. (MWRD unnumbered photograph)

Photo 5.54
Photo 5.54

A close-up view of the centrifugal double-suction impeller of a pump at the Racine Avenue Pumping Station. Water is drawn up from the wet well in the suction bell piping on each side of the pump, entering the impeller through the annular opening surrounding the horizontal shaft. Rotation of the impeller thrusts the water outward, forcing up it up and out the discharge piping. Behind the impeller is one of the electrical motors that powers the pumps. (MWRD unnumbered photo)

Photo 5.55
Photo 5.55

Looking north from the south balcony in 1963 following completion of the second expansion of the Racine Avenue Pumping Station. There are 14 pumps with a total discharge capacity of 6,000 cubic feet per second or about four billion gallons per day. Starting in the left foreground and proceeding north, the pumps are numbered 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 16, and 18. On the right, the pumps are numbered 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14. Even numbered pumps only discharge to the river. (MWRD unnumbered photo)

Photo 5.56
Photo 5.56

The completed second expansion of the Racine Avenue Pumping Station in 1963, as shown from the balcony in the northwest corner of the pump room. The second expansion added the two pumps in the foreground. The discharge piping crosses the room and exits through the east wall. All pumps discharging through the east wall can only discharge to the South Fork. (MWRD unnumbered photograph)

Photo 5.57
Photo 5.57

A District laborer observes the wet well during a large storm. Normally, the influent water level in the wet well upstream of the screens is perhaps 10 or 15 feet below this wet weather extreme. In very large storms, the wet well can rise higher than where the man is standing. The discoloration on the concrete columns indicates how high the influent sewage and stormwater has risen. (MWRD unnumbered photo)

Photo 5.58
Photo 5.58

An unusual winter rain storm on February 1, 1968, following a cold spell, brought a large amount of hardened grease to the Racine Avenue Pumping Station wet well. The grease is the chunky white material and behind it is a pile of the usual gray material raked off the influent screens. (MWRD photo 34016)

Photo 5.59
Photo 5.59

The hardened grease kept coming, resulting in extra work for the laborers at the pumping station after the early February rain storm. It was manual work in 1968 and was mechanized later. Today, the mechanically raked material drops on a conveyor belt and is carried to a dumpster. (MWRD unnumbered photo)

Photo 5.60
Photo 5.60

Raking the screens is continual during high flows because the screens can become clogged with debris in a short time, forcing the motor drives to be overloaded and shut down. This must be avoided because it could cause a backup condition in the tributary sewer system and pumping station damage. (MWRD unnumbered photo)

Photo 5.61
Photo 5.61

Outside the front door of the Racine Avenue Pumping Station at left is a lower level open chamber containing gate operating mechanisms. The station has numerous gates for maximum flexibility in directing flow. The gate operator in view is for a gate below that can allow the wet well to bypass the pumps and flow directly to the effluent sewer and the Stickney plant. (MWRD unnumbered photo)

Photo 5.62
Photo 5.62

Illinois Department of Transportation Expressway Pumping Station on Union Avenue north of Roosevelt Road. This station is typical of many in the Central Area, situated near the expressway, but accessible via local streets. All stations are automated and are equipped with electrically operated pumps. Operating and security status are reported to the department’s operations center. (Photo by author)