« Front and Center of Chicago | Main | The Fish Menace »

River Pollution of the Past

Today's Chicago Tribune has a full-page feature about the history of pollution in the Chicago River, specifically that most colorful and polluted tributary known as Bubbly Creek, which drained run-off from the Stockyards.

The most fascinating part of the article is a clipping from 1911 about a mugging victim who was tossed from the Ashland bridge into the river unconscious, but survived by floating on the thick layer of filth and debris on top of the river. The South Arm of Bubbly Creek which passed under the bridge had once been the outlet of a large marsh which was filled in when the area was urbanized. Several blocks downstream from here the little stream met the Stockyards Slip, a dredged channel which functioned as the sewage outflow from the vast stockyards, which no doubt backed up into the South Arm as well. This filthiest part of Bubbly Creek was buried underground in the 1920s in an effort to clean up the river.

Another smaller article is a review from 1906 of Upton Sinclair's new novel The Jungle, claiming that the author exaggerated the terrible working conditions in the Stockyards, and the condition of Bubbly Creek. The creek is mentioned briefly in the novel, but is not a big part of the story, just another signifier of the grim living conditions in the Back of the Yards neighborhood where the characters live.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 25, 2011 10:16 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Front and Center of Chicago.

The next post in this blog is The Fish Menace.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35