Raising Chicago – how the City of Chicago defeated flooding in the 1850s

Watts Up With That?

Raising a block of buildings on Lake Street. Public domain image,  Edward Mendel - Chicago Historical Society Raising a block of buildings on Lake Street. Public domain image,
Edward Mendel – Chicago Historical Society

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

In the 1800s the City of Chicago had a problem. The city rests on low lying marshlands, on the shore of Lake Michigan. Floods were frequent, mud was everywhere, and poor sanitation created ideal conditions for frequent deadly cholera epidemics.

According to the Chicago Tribune;

As Chicago boomed in the 1850s, growing into a major lake port and industrial center, mud became a major problem. The lakeshore marsh on which the city was being built seemed bottomless. A popular story of the time had it that a passerby came upon a man whose head and shoulders protruded from the muck in the middle of the street. “Can I help?” asked the passerby. “No, thank you,” replied the man. “I have a fine horse under me.”

Read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/chi-chicagodays-raisingstreets-story-story.html

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