Thursday, August 3, 2017

August 3, 1884 -- Chicago River Chemical Analysis Not Favorable



August 3, 1884 – The Chicago Daily Tribune prints a letter from a Professor J. H. Long in which he describes the results of an “elaborate examination” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 3, 1884] of the city’s drinking water.  “Our water is bad enough,” writes Professor Long, “but it might be a great deal worse.  Any one interested in the subject will find in Bridgeport eight large pumps at work night and day drawing water from the river and throwing it into the Illinois and Michigan Canal at the rate of 60,000 cubic feet per minute. By this means a current is created which carries the sewage of the south and main branches of the river away from the lake and into the canal running toward the Mississippi.”  The professor says that chemists usually consider three parts of “free” ammonia and five parts of “albuminoid” per hundred million parts of water “as limits beyond which the nitrogenous matter should not go” in water that is to be used for consumption.  At the State Street bridge a test found seven parts per million of free ammonia and seventy parts per million of albuminoid.  At the Bridgeport pumps there were found 200 parts per million of ammonia and 100 parts per million of albuminoid. The area that came to be known as Bubbly Creek yielded 500 parts per million of ammonia and 140 parts per million of alubuminoid. At this site the analysis revealed “a great variety of specimens of lower animal and vegetable life. The north side was not exempt. At the Fullerton Avenue bridge there were found 240 parts of free ammonia per million parts of water and 84 of albuminoid per million. “From whatever standpoint we take,” the professor writes, the North Branch appears to be an evil.” The conclusion of the study suggests that boiling and then filtration of water should be undertaken to ensure the health of the city’s populace.


August 3, 1906:  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago have approved the purchase of El Greco’s “Assumption of the Virgin” for the price of $40,000.  The canvas, measuring 13 feet, two inches high by seven feet, six inches wide, will be the largest painting on display at the Art Institute.  It was commissioned by Don Diego de Castilla in 1577 as an altar piece for the convent church of San Domingo El Antiguo in Toledo, Spain.   The Art Institute today describes the priceless work in this way, “The artist’s use of flickering, high-keyed colors and broad brushwork further lend the work an ecstatic feeling sought after by Catholic Church patrons during the Counter-Reformation.  El Greco used such bold colors and figural arrangements to arouse a spiritual fervor in the viewer and impart the deep sense of faith he himself felt.”  The work may be found In Gallery 211 in the European Painting and Sculpture section.

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