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American Regional History Publishing Award - 1st Place - Midwest Region
Midwest Independent Publishers Association Merit Award - 2nd Place - History
One of ten "outstanding nominations" for the Abel Wolman Award for the best new book in the field of public works history
Used and abused. Straightened and channelized. Reversed and revered. But never ignored...
An Intimate Biography of the Heroic Creek that Chicago Made
When French explorers Jolliet and Marquette used the Chicago portage to access the Mississippi River system, the Chicago River was but a humble, even sluggish, stream in the right place at the right time. That's the story of the making of Chicago. This is the other story--the story of the making and perpetual re-making of a river by everything from pre-glacial forces to the interventions of an emerging and mighty city.
Posted August 20, 2000
This is one of the strange and interesting facts revealed in this book. The author spent six years meticulously researching and writing THE CHICAGO RIVER: A NATURAL AND UNNATURAL HISTORY about 'the heroic creek that Chicago made.' The book does many things for Chicago history: it gives a great prespective of the political realities of managing one of the main forms of transportation in the early growth of the city; it describes the economics of developing the land along the river (and its many courses); and it shows us the part that the river played in the lives of everyone along its banks. The drawings and maps in the book are carefully chosen to give the reader an accurate visual description of the times. My favorite is shown on pg. 96 where men are lifting an entire hotel to accomodate the installation of sewers in the city. I also loved the story about the 'kidnapped' dredge. The last third of the book is very pertinent to people in the region who truly enjoy the outdoors. It describes the development of the Skokie Lagoons and the Chicago Botanic Garden where many of us bird and the start of the natural areas restoration movement for which the Chicago region has become so well known on the North Branch. For folks who grew up in or near the city, the neighborhood references will surely bring back fond memories but, even for those of us who are not natives of the area, there is much to learn. This book would be a great addition to a reference library or a wonderful gift for someone interested in Chicago and its varied history. Looking for the answer to the question that began this review? You'll have to read the book to find out how a stroke of luck- or the pen!- made us the 'City of Big Shoulders' instead of the 'City of the Northwoods'!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.