Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26, 1862 -- Windmills Might End the "Intolerable Stench"

June 26, 1862 – The Chicago Tribune begins yet another editorial about the Chicago River in this way, “It is conceded by all men that something must be done immediately to improve the sanitary condition of the Chicago River.  The good name of our city, the lives of thousands of our citizens, and, its commerce, growth and prosperity imperatively demand immediate and energetic action . . . In its present condition, a week of hot weather will render a block or two on each side of the river uninhabitable.  And, besides what is to become of our vast shipping interest—the men who navigate our tugs and attend to the bridges, and virtually are forced to live during the season amid the intolerable pestilence-breeding stench of the river, and the crews of our propellers, canal boats, and vessels that are obliged to live upon the river from one to three days at a time?  A week of hot weather will drive them from the river, and no man is so stupid as not to know that Chicago is nothing without her commerce.”  The paper has solutions.  Pumps at Bridgeport “can clear it out and, aired by the process and mingled with the water of the DesPlaines it will pass South without inconvenience or offence to any body.”  But the North Branch, with virtually no current, is a different story, and the Tribune has a solution for that as well:  “Place one or half a dozen pumps, if necessary, driven by wind mills on the Lake shore, at or near the north end of the old cemetery, and let the water be discharged in a ditch running due west into the North Branch.  Let the pumps be of the largest size, and such are now used upon our railroads.”   How different North Avenue would be today if instead of its popular beach and nautical-themed boathouse it was the site of a half-dozen windmills, churning away in the Windy City, pumping lake water west to the river.

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