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Chicago River Reversal Essay

858 words - 4 pages

An epidemic of water born diseases in Chicago was rampant in the early 1880s. In order to stop the spread the diseases, Chicago exercised their right to reverse the flow of the once stagnant river, thus saving the lives of Chicago residents.

In the early 1880s, Chicago was a bustling city on its way to becoming one of great cities in the world. There was a problem though. Horrible sanitation problems plagued the city. The Chicago River was virtually an open sewer covered with visible filth. Most of the river’s worst pollution came from homes and bathroom waste thought the city. “Bubbly Creek” was one of the worst branches of the river. It was filled with enough stockyard waste to equal the pollution from a sizable city. To further the problem, all of the contents of the river flowed into Lake Michigan, polluting Chicago’s drinking water causing a sever outbreak of water born diseases.

The history of the Chicago River is an interesting part of Chicago. The Chicago River was shallow and stagnant, but it had much potential because of its location and what it provided to the city. The Chicago River altered the human population as Chicago developed into a big city. Because of the river factories and stock yards moved in and caused major problems for the city. The rise of Chicago's Stock Yards was a significant benefactor to the city's pollution problem. In the late1840s Chicago large stockyards moved into the city along the river and dumped all of the meat packing waste into the river. Because of this problems such as, sewage, factory waste, and other wastes over flowed the river, and badly polluted the river. Unfortunately the river was connected to Lake Michigan, the source of water for Chicago residents, drinking water became polluted and disease spread rapidly thought the city. Within months, waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid killed more than 3000 people per year. In 1836 construction began on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Unfortunately money was scarce and Canal commissioners had to construct a cheaper and more shallow canal where pumps were used to fill the canal. This did not solve the Epidemics around the city. In 1871, the Chicago broke loos and spread thought the city, the Chicago river was so dirty it caught on fire and caused more damage to the city. Something had to be done about the open sewer that was the Chicago river.

Illinois International Port District was founded in the early 18th century by a french fur trapper. Chicago’s expansion...

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