Sunday, June 12, 2016

June 12, 1970 -- Daley Appraises the Future of the River

June 12, 1970 – One might peg this date as the day that Chicago finally began to get serious about cleaning up the Chicago River as Mayor Richard J. Daley announces plans to beautify the banks of the river along 38 miles, extending from the city to the Calumet River.  Wait for it . . . “I hope we will live to see the day there will be fishing in the river,” said the mayor.  “Maybe even a bicycle path along the bank.  Perhaps swimming.” [Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1970]  John Egan, president of the Chicago Sanitary District, says that the district is the owner of extensive areas of property along the river, much of it leased and that a lessee’s failure to improve that property could result in hearings and forfeiture.  The city’s corporation counsel, Richard L. Curry, says that Chicago can fine river front polluters up to $500 a day.  “We can get injunctions to force them to abate conditions, or the city can move in and do the work and file liens,” Curry says.  Forty-six years later the city is still working on it, but the new River Walk on the main stem of the river shows clearly how far we have come.

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