Monday, June 06, 2011

The North Shore Channel

On Sunday I spent some time in the northern suburbs, and caught sight of one of the lesser-known parts of the Chicago River system, the North Shore Channel. Dug more than 100 years ago now, it connects Lake Michigan at Wilmette with the North Branch of the Chicago River. I stood on footpath of the Dempster Street bridge, near the Evanston-Skokie border just east of McCormick Blvd., and saw this view looking south. Frame it right and there isn't a hint of anything manmade except the channel itself.

It's hard to tell in the photo, but the channel doesn't look particularly clean. Indeed, a sign under the bridge -- pretty much where anyone climbing down the banks from the footpath would see it -- warns:


This waterway is not suitable for
• wading
• swimming
• jet skiing
• water skiing
• tubing
• any human body contact

The channel is subject to a "combined sewer overflow" during especially rainy periods, and we've had a lot of those lately. That doesn't sound very clean, and it isn't.



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