On May 29 next year, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago will celebrate its 130th anniversary. The Illinois legislature established the Chicago Sanitary District in 1889 with a stern mandate: keep sewage out of Chicago’s drinking water supply (namely, Lake Michigan). The big, bold plan resulted in the reversal of the Chicago River in 1900, a 76-mile system of manmade channels and canals connecting the Mississippi watershed with that of the Great Lakes, and a booming metropolis named after the nodding wild onion that grew in profusion along the riverbanks (Che-ca-gou in Pottawatomi) and that grows here still.
Watch for flotillas of kayaks, canoes and other water craft plying what once was an open sewer pipe built to convey waste away from the lake. Plan your own water-based celebration. Read the revised edition of Libby Hill’s comprehensive history of the Chicago River (out soon from Southern Illinois Press). Let’s plan together to honor and greet the vital aqua arteries running through the heart of Chicagoland.
June 20, 2018
Stop by the Erie Café from 5:30 to 7 to help me celebrate the summer solstice and to give a small push to my campaign for another term on the Board of Commissioners of the old sanitary district. We’ve hosted a party at this charming spot on the banks of the Chicago River for the last decade. Please join me and other boosters of river health (and good government).
Summer Solstice celebration
536 W. Erie, Chicago
Wednesday, June 20