WBEZ | infrastructure http://www.wbez.org/tags/infrastructure Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Looking out for climate change in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/looking-out-climate-change-chicago-109968 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: <a href="#event">Key interviews that contributed to this story</a> about climate change and the future of Chicago were first presented during <a href="#event">The Raw Report,</a>&nbsp;a live media event co-produced by WBEZ and <a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a>, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.&nbsp;</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20family%20photo.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 200px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Mark Mesle, center, asked his question out of concern for his family, including wife Abby and daughter Parker. (Photo courtesy of Mark Mesle)" />Some people find it hard to get worked up about the fate of future generations. But Mark Mesle, who came to Curious City with a big question about climate change, has no problem putting a face on future environmental anxieties.</p><p>Her name is Parker. She&rsquo;s Mark&rsquo;s 18-month-old daughter. He and his wife Abbey have another kid on the way, and it got him wondering:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>How will climate change impact Chicago?</em></p><p>Mark runs a website, <a href="http://www.50yearforecast.org" target="_blank">www.50yearforecast.org</a>, devoted to raising awareness on climate change, so he&rsquo;s no stranger to the topic. What he asked us for was a higher-resolution picture of the problem: a better understanding of how greenhouse gases might change life for his kids here in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;You always see 2100 projections,&rdquo; said Mark, who is 33 years old. &ldquo;How about 2045, when my daughter is my age?&rdquo;</p><p>Mark wants to know what kind of world his kids will grow up in, so understandably he asked for a high degree of detail.</p><p>&ldquo;Do the Cubs not play August games anymore?&rdquo; he asked, for example.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s the thing: Mark&rsquo;s asking for something that we don&#39;t have a clear answer for, according to Liz Moyer, an assistant professor of atmospheric chemistry and transport at the University of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;We know physically that climate change will happen. We know geologically what&rsquo;s happened to species in the past,&rdquo; Moyer said. &ldquo;How do you turn that into saying, &lsquo;It&rsquo;s going to cost this much, it&rsquo;ll change our economy in this way.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s something we&rsquo;ve had trouble doing, and the economic models are set up to reflect that.&rdquo;</p><p>The basic science is settled. Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, most notably) trap heat within the atmosphere, causing a global temperature rise. As it gets warmer, sea level rises due to the physical expansion of heated water and melting ice around the globe.</p><p>What all this means for Chicago is harder to say &mdash; the<a href="http://www.ipcc-data.org/guidelines/pages/gcm_guide.html" target="_blank"> climate models scientist use don&#39;t provide that kind of resolution</a>. But the situation could be improving. <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/19/climate-data-initiative-launches-strong-public-and-private-sector-commitments" target="_blank">In March the federal government announced</a> it would release data from NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Defense, and other Federal agencies on its website, climate.data.gov, <a href="http://resilience.maps.arcgis.com/home/" target="_blank">to help cities and regions plan</a> for climate change. The <a href="http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/warm/cdflist.asp?typ=a" target="_blank">Illinois Climate Network&#39;s data</a> is part of that growing cache of information.</p><p>Globally, though, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/climate-change-warnings-sharp-relief-104942" target="_blank">scientists are concerned</a>. A<a href="http://whatweknow.aaas.org/" target="_blank"> report issued March 18</a> by the American Association for the Advancement of Science warns, &ldquo;We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts.&rdquo;</p><p>So, if we won&rsquo;t be able to give a foolproof picture of what Chicago&rsquo;s climate will be like in 2045, is there any insight we could send Mark&rsquo;s way?</p><p>It turns out there is.</p><p>We found scientists, economists, activists and Chicago officials who are on the lookout for local effects of climate change. While none gives a full-blown prediction, each identifies which areas of life &mdash; the local economy, the lake, whatever &mdash; are most vulnerable and why Mark (and the rest of us) should consider them.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s on Chicago&rsquo;s radar</strong></p><p>The city laid out what it knows in its Climate Action Plan, which was adopted in 2008. City Hall has three main concerns:<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/temperature/20.php" target="_blank"> it will get hotter</a>, exacerbating<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/weary-high-chicago-asthma-rates-some-lobby-washington-107461" target="_blank"> problems with air quality</a> and perhaps making<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/consecutive-days-warm-temperatures-could-break-1995-record-97332" target="_blank"> deadly heat waves</a> stronger and/or more common;<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/precipitation/21.php" target="_blank"> flooding could get worse</a> as intense<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/climate-change-could-worsen-chicago-floods-106174" target="_blank"> rainstorms become more common</a>, further burdening<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/heavy-rain-overwhelms-combined-sewer-system-106731" target="_blank"> an already swollen sewer system</a>; and<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/ecosystems/22.php" target="_blank"> Chicago&#39;s native ecosystems could change</a>, forcing farmers, gardeners and landscapers to change their habits.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/THUMB%20flickr%20seth%20anderson%20-%20possible%20thumb.jpg" style="float: right; height: 260px; width: 325px; margin: 5px;" title="The Fisk generating plant in Chicago was closed in 2012. (FLickr/Seth Anderson)" />High school students at Robert Lindblom Math &amp; Science Academy in the West Englewood neighborhood are working on that last problem, studying which tree species are best suited to a warmer climate. So Parker Mesle and her forthcoming sibling will likely plant different saplings than her father, our question asker.</p><p>In the future there might be less Lake Michigan than Mark&rsquo;s used to, if <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/what%E2%80%99s-causing-record-low-levels-lake-michigan-105262" target="_blank">a trend toward low lake levels</a> continues. On average, warmer average temperatures should mean less ice cover during winter, which means the Great Lakes may evaporate faster than they&rsquo;re recharged. That could change coastal ecosystems <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/low-waters-and-high-anxiety/?_php=true&amp;_type=blogs&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">and hurt the lucrative shipping industry</a> in the region, which <a href="http://www.marad.dot.gov/documents/US-Flag_Great_Lakes_Water_Transportation_Industry_Final_Report_2013.pdf" target="_top">the U.S. Department of Transportation says</a> supplies $14.1 billion in annual income to U.S. citizens, and $33.6 billion in annual U.S. business revenues.</p><p>The city&rsquo;s thinking through effects of climate change that may not be so dire, however. If Mark&rsquo;s kids choose to live in Chicago, they could have plenty of company. That&rsquo;s because, under some scenarios, transportation (especially forms that involve climate-changing fossil fuels) could become more expensive, making life in the dense, urban core more attractive.</p><p>Chicago is thinking through encouraging or adapting to higher residential density, and strategies include everything from neighborhood walkability to <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/city_sustainability_is_about_t.html" target="_blank">historic preservation and affordable housing</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;If you think big picture, a lot of this is about creating a really livable, really competitive and really livable city,&rdquo; said Karen Weigert, Chicago&rsquo;s chief sustainability officer. She said urbanites have a lower per capita carbon footprint than those in less densely populated communities, which tend to have higher transportation emissions.</p><p>&ldquo;Living in an urban environment, as a start,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;is actually a pretty good climate choice.&rdquo; <a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6218" target="_blank">Even suburbs are starting to reinvest in transit-oriented development</a> and walkability&mdash;characteristics traditionally associated with inner cities. Reducing the distance people need to travel reduces their fuel use, which can save <a href="http://www.nhc.org/media/documents/pub_heavy_load_10_06.pdf" target="_blank">money as well as greenhouse gas emissions</a>. So it&rsquo;s likely Mark&rsquo;s kids will have more transit options (not to mention <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/54-mpg-argonne-natl-lab-wins-grant-fuel-efficiency-research-90433" target="_blank">more fuel-efficient vehicles</a>) wherever they decide to live.</p><p><strong>Knocking on Chicago&rsquo;s door?</strong></p><p>But what if rising seas in Florida and New York &mdash; let alone Bangladesh &mdash; send &ldquo;climate refugees&rdquo; flocking to Chicago? This is an example of an indirect &ldquo;knock-on&rdquo; effect of climate change that came up during <a href="#event">our panel discussion </a>in February. As University of Chicago Law Professor David Weisbach said, however, the Chicago area might be well-positioned to handle newcomers and other unforeseen impacts.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a temperate environment. We have a highly diversified economy &mdash; it&rsquo;s not dependent on any one sector. We have a stable fresh water supply,&rdquo; Weisbach said. &ldquo;If you think about what the effects of climate change will be in Chicago, it&rsquo;s going to be the knock-on effects. We&rsquo;re connected to the rest of the world, and what matters to the rest of the world matters to us. That will affect us potentially very, very deeply.&rdquo;</p><p>When we try to figure out what those potential impacts will be, we&rsquo;re inevitably speculating about the ability of our city to respond to change. One key problem with that is our ability to cope with challenges isn&rsquo;t uniform. Poorer communities, or those with less political clout, get passed over.</p><p>That&rsquo;s true in Chicago,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/qa-kim-wasserman-little-villages-coal-crusader-106742" target="_blank"> according to Kimberly Wasserman Nieto</a>, who is executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. During <a href="#event">our event in February</a>, she said sustainability efforts need to address communities all around the city &mdash; not just on the North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;If it&rsquo;s about saving the butterflies and building green streets in Lincoln Park, that&rsquo;s great for them,&rdquo; Wasserman said, &ldquo;but what does that do for the people on the Southwest Side of Chicago?&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20rainforest%20action%20network.jpg" style="float: left; height: 222px; width: 335px; margin: 5px;" title="Activists from the Little Village Environmental Justice organization protested in 2011 against the Crawford coal plant, which closed in 2012 (Flickr/Rainforest Action Network)" />She said local efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions can help marginalized communities take control of their future, possibly creating jobs in turn.</p><p>&ldquo;For us it&rsquo;s about showing how a local economy can help a community and how that in change can also help turn the impacts of climate change,&rdquo; Wasserman said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re working, breathing, living in our communities, fighting for our environment, and we want to showcase that bringing it local is really one of the only ways that we can save our environment.&rdquo;</p><p>Climate justice is a global issue, too, because the poorest countries also happen to be those that will get hit hardest by the effects of climate change. Countries in the tropics tend to have both fewer resources and far greater biodiversity than countries in temperate zones. Sea-level rise in Bangladesh alone<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/04/14/us-bangladesh-climate-islands-idUSDHA23447920080414" target="_blank"> is expected to displace tens of millions of people</a>.</p><p>Northwestern University Economist Benjamin Jones recently co-authored <a href="http://economics.mit.edu/files/9138" target="_blank">a study</a> examining the connection between severe weather and economic impacts. He and his colleagues found there&rsquo;s a surprisingly large range of possible economic outcomes.</p><p>&ldquo;For example, it&rsquo;s increasingly clear that when you have extreme heat in the U.S., that you see a large negative impact on agricultural output. It&rsquo;s increasingly clear that very high heat leads to at least temporary large spikes in mortality, especially among the very old and very young,&rdquo; Jones said. And, he said, it can impact economic growth on a large scale. With colleagues at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jones <a href="http://economics.mit.edu/files/9138" target="_blank">statistically analyzed the connection between severe weather, climate change and economic impacts</a>. One degree Celsius of warming could curb a country&rsquo;s growth by as much as one percentage point &mdash; a huge effect, considering the U.S. growth rate <a href="http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-growth" target="_blank">was around 3 percent in recent years</a>.</p><p><strong>Climate of opportunity</strong></p><p>But figuring out how to respond to change &mdash; what experts are calling climate &ldquo;resiliency&rdquo; &mdash; could create huge opportunities, too.</p><p>Jones said if Chicago innovates within the low-carbon tech sector, it can make money and jobs while coping with climate risk.</p><p>Chicago is<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-19/changing-gears-will-advanced-batteries-charge-midwest-economy-93278" target="_blank"> the nation&rsquo;s hub for battery technology</a>. The<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> wind energy industry is big here</a>, too, as is<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> energy efficiency</a> and<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> water technology</a>. Perhaps Mark Mesle&rsquo;s children will be among the scientists and engineers who will help us adapt to climate change.</p><p>&ldquo;Necessity is the mother of invention. We&rsquo;re already seeing a lot of innovation around clean energy, around agriculture,&rdquo; Jones said. &ldquo;If there is a lowest-cost way out, it will be that route.&rdquo;</p><p>Ultimately it&rsquo;s a question of managing short-term shocks and long-term changes. A short-term influx of climate refugees could be a good thing, providing skilled labor and boosting the local tax base. But too much too fast could overburden city services, especially if those services are already strained by severe weather.</p><p>In the six years since Chicago set out on its climate action agenda, the city has implemented a few notable initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Ratepayers voted to buy power through municipal aggregation,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city%E2%80%99s-power-deal-boosts-wind-energy-108003" target="_blank"> which doubled the share of wind energy in the city&#39;s electricity supply</a>. That followed the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129" target="_blank"> closure of two coal-fired power plants on the Southwest Side</a> ahead of schedule. And last year Chicago<a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6798" target="_blank"> directed landlords of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, which account for 15 percent of the city&rsquo;s total energy use, to report their energy consumption</a>. That&rsquo;s expected to improve the rate of energy efficiency improvements already hastened<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/env/retrofit_chicago.html" target="_blank"> by a slimmed-down approval process</a> for retrofits.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20steven%20vance.jpg" style="float: right; height: 289px; width: 385px; margin: 5px;" title="A stretch of Cermak Road in Chicago is meant to serve as a model for sustainable streetscape. (Flickr/Steven Vance) " />And parts of Chicago itself may look different for our question asker&rsquo;s children. Chicago has invested in green infrastructure, including<a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6409" target="_blank"> a stretch of Cermak Road meant to serve as a model for sustainable streetscapes</a>. With rain gardens and smog-eating pavement, Sustainability Chief Karen Weigert said &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the kind of infrastructure that will be strong and critically important going forward.&rdquo;</p><p>That project cost less than competing proposals, city officials said when it was announced in 2012, but not all climate resiliency infrastructure projects are easy sells. Potential costs are huge, but so are upfront investments.<a href="http://www.cnt.org/2013/05/14/urban-flooding-is-chronic-and-costly-but-not-correlated-with-floodplains/" target="_blank"> The Center for Neighborhood Technology found</a> floods cost Chicagoans $660 million between 2007 and 2011 (just based on insurance claims paid out), for example. But, as we learned from atmospheric chemist Liz Moyer, cash-strapped governments don&rsquo;t typically make major investments to fend off future pain that is <a href="http://www.cicero.uio.no/media/9411.pdf" target="_blank">inherently uncertain</a>.</p><p><strong>Global citizens</strong></p><p>Absent national movement on a carbon tax or trading scheme that might catalyze development for climate-resilient infrastructure, Chicago will probably continue to lean on its most reliable resource: its people. As Weigert said, the city&rsquo;s motto is <em>Urbs in Horto</em> &mdash; city in a garden.</p><p>And that city is increasingly connected to others around the world. Whether it&rsquo;s in response to business opportunities, climate refugees and other knock-on effects, or carbon emissions from around the globe, Chicago&rsquo;s going to change with the climate. Our question asker Mark Mesle hopes we&rsquo;ll rise to the occasion. So for the sake of his kids, he&rsquo;s urging action.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve sort of always felt there needs to be international cooperation,&rdquo; he said at <a href="#event">our panel event</a> in February. &ldquo;That doesn&rsquo;t happen unless U.S. politicians care about it, and U.S. politicians don&rsquo;t care about it unless you tell them to care about it.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City, and a freelance journalist. <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">Follow him on Twitter at @Cementley</a>.</p><p><strong><a name="event"></a>The Raw Report: An experiment in live media-making</strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="0" height="420" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/29067314&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><p>In February 2014, WBEZ and <a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a> (a program of the Illinois Humanities Council) co-produced &nbsp;&ldquo;The Raw Report,&quot; an experiment in live media-making. The event, held at the Jim &amp; Kay Mabie Studio at Chicago Public Media, included a <a href="#sources">panel of knowledgeable sources</a> that answered Mark Mesle&rsquo;s question in front of a live audience. Teams of young and newly-minted reporters interpreted that answer and created their own original audio presentations in real time, which they reported back to the audience.</p><p>Moderator Laura Washington led a follow-up discussion that explored questions such as: How do the stories generated by the teams of young reporters differ and why? How important is it to realize that each story we consume in media is only one of an infinite number of ways to tell that same story?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="352" scrolling="no" src="http://files.slidemypics.com/app/js/iframe.html?bg_color=1f1f1f&amp;amp;hash=ab3ebd6dc91362591b5843aca1360030&amp;amp;r=0.32371021481230855" width="526"></iframe></p><address style="text-align: center;">(Full set of photos and more info in WBEZ&#39;s Flickr pool:&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.is/1pXyf5r" target="_blank">http://wbez.is/1pXyf5r</a>)</address><p><strong><a name="sources"></a>Sincere thanks to our panelists:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~moyer/MoyerWebsite/Home%20Page/HomePage.html" target="_blank">Elisabeth Moyer</a>, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Transport at the University of Chicago. Moyer&rsquo;s research explores climate modeling and impact assessment. As a researcher with the <a href="http://www.rdcep.org/" target="_blank">Center for Robust Decision-making on Climate &amp; Energy Policy</a> (RDCEP), she&rsquo;s interested in sizing up and dealing with the uncertainty involved with making climate change predictions &mdash; case in point, a recent paper, &ldquo;<a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312770" target="_blank">Climate Impacts on Economic Growth as Drivers of Uncertainty in the Social Cost of Carbon</a>.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kimberly Wasserman Nieto, executive director, <a href="http://lvejo.org/" target="_blank">Little Village Environmental Justice Organization</a>. She&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129" target="_blank">led the charge to close Midwest Generation&rsquo;s Crawford coal plant in her Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, as well as the Fisk power plant in Pilsen</a> &mdash; an effort for which she <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/news/chicago-activist-wins-goldman-environmental-prize-106645" target="_blank">won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize</a> in 2013. LVEJO&rsquo;s success has been recognized worldwide, but Wasserman says the attention has only sharpened her focus on environmental justice in Chicago.</p><p><a href="http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/weisbach" target="_blank">David Weisbach</a>, Walter J. Blum Professor of Law and Senior Fellow, the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. Trained as a mathematician and lawyer, Weisbach is primarily interested in issues relating to federal taxation and to climate change.</p><p><strong>Thanks, too, to our teams of journalists, who represented the following organizations:</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/" target="_blank">The Chicago Reporter</a>: An investigative news organization that identifies, analyzes, and reports on the social, economic, and political issues of metropolitan Chicago with a focus on race and poverty.</p><p><a href="http://themash.com/" target="_blank">The Mash</a>: A weekly newspaper and website written largely by, for, and about Chicago high school students.</p><p><a href="http://www.freespiritmedia.org/" target="_blank">Free Spirit Media</a>: An organization that provides education, access, and opportunity in media production to underserved urban youth.</p><p><a href="http://www.karilydersen.com/teaching.html" target="_blank">The Social Justice Chicago Reporting Fellowship program</a>&nbsp;at Northwestern University&rsquo;s Medill School of Journalism</p><p><a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Journalism/" target="_blank">Columbia College Journalism Department</a></p><p><strong>Thanks to our partner for the Raw Report:&nbsp;</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a>&nbsp;is a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IHC-Logo_Color_Plain.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 89px; width: 400px;" title="" /></div></p> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 19:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/looking-out-climate-change-chicago-109968 Bridges that span the river and the decades http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/bridges-span-river-and-decades-108903 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/topper%20bridge%20house%20mindfrieze%20flickr.jpg" title="The Kinzie Street rail bridge and deteriorated bridgehouse. (Flickr/Mindfrieze)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F114901925&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If you&rsquo;re admiring great architecture in the Loop, chances are you&rsquo;re looking at skyscrapers. But if you crane your neck a bit less, you might notice an often overlooked catalogue of Chicago&rsquo;s architectural movements. It&rsquo;s the parade of bridgehouses along the Chicago River. Art Deco, Beaux-Arts, Modernism &mdash; all the major architectural styles that typify the city are on display in the bridgehouses that line the river.</p><p>It can be enough to drive one to distraction, as it once did for Jim Brady.</p><p>&ldquo;I almost had an accident one time when I thought I saw a light in one of them,&rdquo; Brady says. &ldquo;I had to put my eyes back on Wacker Drive. So I never answered my question of if there&rsquo;s any life up there.&rdquo;</p><p>Brady, a journalist turned telecommunications specialist who lives in River Forest, tried to rectify this when he asked Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Who stays in guard houses along Chicago bridges, and what do they do all day?&rdquo;</em></p><p>As we found out, the quick answer to Jim Brady&rsquo;s question is: Most of the time, nobody! But these beautiful structures still serve a function. Stories about the downtown river bridges and the workers who once tended them solidify the claim that Chicago&rsquo;s relationship with its river is every bit as notable as the one it has with Lake Michigan.</p><p><strong>Bridges to innovation</strong></p><p>Chicago has the most movable bridges<a href="http://www.landmarks.org/ten_most_2013_chicago_bascule_bridges.htm" target="_blank"> of any city in the world</a>. There are 37 in total, including 18 along the river&rsquo;s main branch downtown. Most are of a style called Bascule, from the French word for teeter-totter &mdash;&nbsp;drawbridges that lift up instead of swinging to the side.</p><p>Like a lot of its most impressive feats of architecture and engineering, the city&rsquo;s record-setting collection of drawbridges has its origin in a very practical concern.</p><p>&ldquo;We had all these big boats coming through and a pretty narrow river, so you couldn&rsquo;t really build those big bridge spans that would clear those large boats,&rdquo; says Ozana Balan-King, a <a href="http://www.chicagoriver.org/" target="_blank">Friends of the Chicago River</a> employee who helps run the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bridgehousemuseum.org/home/" target="_blank">&nbsp;McCormick Bridgehouse &amp; Chicago River Museum</a>.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jim Brady and bridge museum lady.jpg" style="height: 231px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Our question asker Jim Brady with Ozana Balan-King, who helps run the McCormick Bridgehouse &amp; Chicago River Museum. (Flickr/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>She adds that since our bridges needed to move out of the way quickly, &ldquo;A lot of the movable bridge innovation in the world has really taken place here in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Now, a bridge for two seasons</strong></p><p>In 1920, the modern Michigan Avenue bridge&rsquo;s first year of operation, it opened 3,377 times. Back then bridgehouses were staffed around the clock and opened on demand. But the law began to favor landlubbers over boat traffic on the Chicago River, especially as commercial shipping shifted south to the Calumet Harbor.</p><p>Now bridges open only two times per week during a few months of the year:<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/bridge/news/2013/apr/spring_bridge_liftsmarksstartoftheboatingseason.html" target="_blank"> Between April and June</a>, bridges open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings to let sailboats into Lake Michigan. On the same days<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/bridge/news/2013/sep/fall_bridge_liftschedule.html" target="_blank"> from late September until mid-November</a>, they open again so sailboats can return to the Chicago River system before winter.</p><p>That system has been in place since 1994. Since they&rsquo;re no longer staffed 24 hours a day, bridgehouses are usually unoccupied, though the 18th Street bridge is still staffed around the clock.</p><p>During bridge lifts, seven crews from the Chicago Department of Transportation work to open and close 27 city-owned bridges. Crews leapfrog one another to keep the process moving, but it can take up to five hours. They start between 9 and 10 a.m. to avoid the worst of the morning and afternoon rush hours.</p><p>Boat owners can talk to their boatyards about signing up for a bridge lift. To find out when lifts are scheduled, CDOT spokesman Peter Scales says to<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/bridge/news/2013/sep/fall_bridge_liftschedule.html" target="_blank"> look out for press releases</a>. James Phillips, who runs the website<a href="http://www.chicagoloopbridges.com/" target="_blank"> ChicagoLoopBridges.com</a>, also<a href="https://twitter.com/chicagobridges" target="_blank"> tweets the dates of confirmed bridge lifts</a>.</p><p><strong>The grinding gears of bridge duty</strong></p><p>Back when bridgehouses were staffed, bridge tending often meant more than just making sure boat traffic ran smoothly.</p><p>&ldquo;There was always something burning in this area here,&rdquo; said Bruce Lampson, 67, a former bridgetender. &ldquo;I had two telephones: one directly to City Hall, and one to &mdash; in those days &mdash; the Illinois Bell Telephone Company.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB lampson-at-z-1 by Virginia Lampson_Bruce mom.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Bruce Lampson operating the former Z-1 bridge. His mom came to visit and snapped a few shots. (Courtesy Virginia Lampson)" /></p><p>From 1961 until he was drafted by the Army in 1965, Lampson ran the Z-1 bridge that used to carry railroad tracks northeast across the river just north of Kinzie Street. He grew up in the area and had learned to operate the bridge by watching people work the control panel when he was a child. Instead of going to high school, Lampson lied about his age and got the job when he was just 14 years old.</p><p>&ldquo;I was very tall for my age,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They never asked any questions. They just asked, &lsquo;Can you operate a bridge?&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>He worked from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for six days at a time, earning two days off and $65 &mdash; not much less than his mother made working as a secretary in City Hall. In addition to opening the bridge, he sometimes had to direct street traffic with red flags when extreme heat or cold would jam the gates that kept motorists from driving into the river at the neighboring Kinzie Street bridge. But, he says, sometimes they did so anyway. He says he was once at his post on the east bank of the river when a man committed suicide.</p><p>&ldquo;I watched a man jump off the [Kinzie Street] bridge, go down, pop back up almost back up to the bridge, go back into the water and that&rsquo;s it. I never saw him. He just floated away under the water,&rdquo; Lampson says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve seen cows, horses, livestock floating down. I&rsquo;ve seen pieces of boats floating down. Anything that floated would float past you like that.&rdquo;</p><p>Z-1 was a bob-tail swing bridge that spun sideways instead of lifting up like a bascule bridge. It no longer exists, but the Z-2 bridge on North Avenue has a similar design.</p><p>In the summer of 2013, Chicago Tribune reporters Hal Dardick and John Byrne <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-07-06/news/ct-met-dick-mell-interview-20130706_1_alderman-70-jobs-popsicle">interviewed departing Alderman Richard Mell</a>, who says he &quot;put four kids through college as bridge tenders&rdquo;:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;I would get them on the second shift, from 3 to 11, where they could do their homework. Or 11 to 7, where they&#39;d sleep, and they were getting electrician&#39;s pay, and it was great. I helped.&rdquo;</em><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/z-1-bridge%20by%20Virginia%20Lampson%20web.jpg" style="height: 251px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="A look at the former Z-1 bridge. (Courtesy of Virginia Lampson)" /></p><p>Boat traffic on the Chicago River has dried up a bit since then, and the crew that operates the city&rsquo;s movable bridges has followed suit. Darryl Rouse, CDOT&rsquo;s Assistant Commissioner and Superintendent of Bridges, said his staff is down from hundreds of employees during the 1970s to just 51 today. The days of sleeping or doing homework on the job, he says, are long gone &mdash; the crew is too small, Rouse says, to give bridge tenders any time to slack off.</p><p>If our question asker, Jim Brady, wants a glimpse of the way things used to be, he can drop by five bridges in the Calumet system that are staffed 24 hours a day. Milwaukee also<a href="http://milwaukeeriverkeeper.org/content/milwaukee-bridge-overview"> still has several staffed bridgehouses</a>, although many of that city&rsquo;s bridges are operated automatically or by remote.</p><p>But maybe the bridgehouses themselves are enough, as Jim Brady and I learn when we tour the Bridgehouse Museum.</p><p>Brady leans out the window over Michigan Avenue. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a part of Chicago that Chicago can just walk right by if you&rsquo;re late for your 10 a.m. appointment,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot going on that we just don&rsquo;t see.&rdquo;<a name="bridgevideo"></a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/a6r_Wee7BxA" width="420"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mJhnaTKEPOU" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for Curious City. Follow him at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 13:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/bridges-span-river-and-decades-108903 Ten years after historic blackout, are we better off? http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/ten-years-after-historic-blackout-are-we-better-108387 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Grid MAIN THUMBNAIL_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">August 14, 2003 Mike Kormos was coming home from a conference when he got a call.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They said something had happened and I needed to report to the office as soon as possible,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Kormos rushed to his offices at <a href="http://www.pjm.com/about-pjm.aspx">PJM </a>where he is Executive Vice President of Operations, overseeing part of the electrical grid. Shortly after he got to the office, one of the largest blackouts in history cascaded across the Northeast &nbsp;and Midwest. Over 50 million people lost power in both the U.S. and Canada, including Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto and New York. Some would be without power for two days. The event contributed to 11 deaths and cost between<a href="http://www.elcon.org/Documents/EconomicImpactsOfAugust2003Blackout.pdf">&nbsp;$4 and 8 billion.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Some people&rsquo;s power wouldn&#39;t return until two days later. The cause of the outage was complicated but largely due to infrastructure invented in the era of Thomas Edison.</p><p dir="ltr">The age of the system is why this week, the Obama administration called for increased spending to upgrade the nation&rsquo;s electric power system. There was a time shortly after 9/11, that some thought terrorist activity would make us most vulnerable to major blackouts.</p><p dir="ltr">Because the brownout of 2003 was a few years after 9/11, and blackouts on the big transmission grid are rare, Kormos and his team thought this outage might be a case of terrorism. But later they found out the &nbsp;blackout was partially the fault of another big T.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Trees had interfered with some of the lines and the lines ended up basically tripping,&rdquo; explained Kormos.</p><p dir="ltr">It may seem strange that such a simple thing could contribute to one of the biggest blackouts in history, but this was a case of a domino effect. &nbsp;An Ohio electric company hadn&#39;t trimmed its trees, and so when heavy wires began to droop, they touched the top of branches and tripped. That put extra energy on to other lines, which in turn also drooped under heavier loads and hit trees.</p><p dir="ltr">And Kormos says, there was another big trouble-causing T: tools.</p><p dir="ltr">To understand their importance, you first have to learn how the grid works.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>UNDERSTANDING THE GRID</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://boingboing.net/author/maggie_koerth-baker">Maggie Koerth-Baker</a> is a science columnist and author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0470876255/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=boingbonet-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0470876255">Before The Lights go Out.</a> She says we use more energy and produce more emissions through electricity than we do with anything else, including transportation. &nbsp;But because the electrical grid is complicated, we don&rsquo;t think about it as much.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Electricity is like these little elves that live in the walls and you forget that there is all this infrastructure in the background,&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s why she wants to make sure folks understand the grid.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to say it&rsquo;s like a lazy river at a water park. It has to move along at a constant speed which is analogous to frequency and it has to move along at a constant depth, which is analogous to what engineers call voltage.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">All along this river are drains which are like people using energy. There are also faucets, filling up the river, that&rsquo;s like companies making energy.</p><p>&ldquo;And if that [balance] gets out of whack by even fractions of a percent, you get blackouts,&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The 2003 blackout was caused by that imbalance between energy supply and demand. That happened for a bunch of reasons, like those trees. But one of the biggest problems is that energy providers couldn&rsquo;t see the problem-- they didn&rsquo;t have the tools to get a picture of where that lazy river had blockages, or overflows, and where they could reroute it.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>CHANGES IN THE GRID</strong></p><p dir="ltr">A lot has changed in the 10 years since the blackout. New technology, like p<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phasor_measurement_unit">hasor measurement units (PMUs)</a>, give more accurate pictures of what happens on the grid. Kormos compares what they had in 2003 to an x-ray, and what they have today, to an MRI. There are also new regulations as a result of the blackout, such as high fees for not trimming trees and mandatory training. Experts say all that means blackouts on the scale of 2003 are less likely today. But they also say we need to be doing a lot more to be ready for the future.</p><p dir="ltr">John Estey is the Executive Chair at <a href="http://www.sandc.com/">S&amp;C Electric Company,</a> a business that makes energy products to build smart grids.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A smart grid is the use of intelligent controls, software communication and automation to help improve the reliability and the efficiency of the delivery of electricity,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a grid with a lot of brains.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">To show me what that means, Estey takes me to big warehouse room with a miniature city &nbsp;inside it. The city has real lights and electrical wires. But this isn&rsquo;t just any city, it&rsquo;s a city that has upgraded to a smart grid.</p><p dir="ltr">Estey points to little boxes on top of the electrical poles and explains they are smart devices. Each of the boxes takes measurements and tells the other devices how much energy they are carrying, if there are any problems, and how energy might be rerouted.</p><p dir="ltr">For the sake of demonstration, the warehouse has a big switch that mimics the power of God. It can short-circuit wires or take an entire energy plant offline. Estey tells a colleague to pretend that someone using a backhoe hit an underground electrical wire. The system shuts down the area around the severed wire, so dangerous electricity isn&rsquo;t running through it. Then the power automatically routes around the problem so people in surrounding areas don&rsquo;t lose their power.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The streets stayed on through the whole thing,&rdquo; Estey declared proudly.</p><p dir="ltr">In an old grid, there wouldn&rsquo;t be any smart boxes to locate the problem. The company would have to wait until people called in to report it. Then they&rsquo;d drive around just looking for the downed wire. Once they found it, they&rsquo;d have to reroute each switch manually. That can take hours, instead of seconds and leave thousands, instead of hundreds, without electricity.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>MOVING THE GRID FORWARD</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://boingboing.net/author/maggie_koerth-baker">Maggie Koerth-Baker</a> says in addition to stopping blackouts, the way we updated the grid will determine what we can do over the next 30 years in terms of all kinds of energy infrastructure, like using renewables. So what&rsquo;s in the way?</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We [need to] invest $8 billion a year to make the grid stronger. $17-20 billion dollars to make it smarter,&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.</p><p dir="ltr">That sounds like a lot of money. But experts estimate that blackouts cost U.S. customers $<a href="http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/REPORT%20lbnl%20-%2058164.pdf">79 billion each yea</a>r and savings with a smart grid could be as high as $<a href="http://tli.umn.edu/blog/security-technology/u-s-electrical-grid-gets-less-reliable-as-outages-increase-and-rd-decreases/">49 billion a year.</a></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But because we don&rsquo;t have the incentives in place for anybody to be thinking about and benefiting financially from &nbsp;those long term changes, there is nobody really paying attention to them&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.</p><p dir="ltr">For example, smart grids would make it easier for people to add solar panels to their houses. They could produce energy for themselves, but also put it back on the grid or provide energy to their neighbors. But why would a company that makes money selling energy, pay to build something that might lower their profits?</p><p dir="ltr">That&#39;s just one of many questions regulators across the country are working to solve. Next in the series Flipping the Switch, we&rsquo;ll explore some of the political and social factors that are helping and hindering improvements to our current electrical grid.</p><p><br /><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 13 Aug 2013 07:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/ten-years-after-historic-blackout-are-we-better-108387 Six tunnels hidden under Chicago’s Loop http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/six-tunnels-hidden-under-chicago%E2%80%99s-loop-107791 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/tunnels/index.html" target="_blank"><img a="" alt="" below="" class="image-original_image" download="" file="" fit="" for="" get="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CCTunnels new topper.jpg" the="" title="Drawings by Erik Nelson Rodriguez of the Illustrated Press. Click on the picture above for a full-sized graphic or click &quot;Download the graphic!&quot; below to get a file fit for printing!" to="" /></a></div></div></div></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F97891205&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Karri DeSelm works in the JW Marriott Building, on the corner of LaSalle and Adams in downtown Chicago. Her building, the last designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham, was completed in 1914, and underwent major renovations two years ago. Karri says that at the time, her boss told her that she had been down deep into the building&rsquo;s basement, where she had seen the entrance to a secret tunnel that ran underneath the Loop.</p><p>That got Karri wondering:</p><blockquote><p><em>&ldquo;I have heard there is a network of layered tunnels under the city. Is this true, and if so, what was the purpose of the tunnels when they were designed and built?&rdquo;</em></p></blockquote><p>For starters, it&rsquo;s true &mdash; there <em>are</em> many tunnels underneath the Loop. We found no fewer than <em>six different sets of tunnels</em>, including the tunnels connected to Karri&rsquo;s building.</p><p>Each of the tunnels we found was at some point, or continues to be, a critical part of Chicago&rsquo;s infrastructure. The city would be lost without these tunnels. Sometimes they&rsquo;re hidden, and sometimes they&rsquo;re just overlooked, taken for granted by the people who walk above them. But trust us &mdash; 2.8 million people would notice the tunnels&rsquo; absence because they&rsquo;d have no reliable source of clean tap water, no flood control and no crosstown &ldquo;L&rdquo; service in the Loop.</p><p>And the tunnels that aren&rsquo;t still in use are more than just odd architectural remnants or historical curiosities. They may be obscured from sight and from memory (or even sealed off), but they&rsquo;re still an important part of the city&rsquo;s built environment. As one source put it, we ignore the tunnels at our own peril. When we erect new buildings downtown, we do so in a densely layered maze of infrastructure, both old and new.</p><p>To help wrap our heads around Karri&rsquo;s question, we worked with Erik N. Rodriguez of <a href="http://illuspress.com/">The Illustrated Press</a>. Based on our reporting, he created the graphic above, which shows six different kinds of tunnels, how deep underground they are and how they&rsquo;re situated relative to one another. Note, though, that the drawing is a composite; it shows what can be found at different depths across the Loop, but not necessarily beneath any single street address.</p><p><strong>1. The Pedway</strong></p><p>File Chicago&rsquo;s Pedway under tunnels you may not know you know. You may have seen the system&rsquo;s distinctive black and gold compass logo marking the entryways of skyscrapers downtown without knowing what they signified.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-1.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />Short for &ldquo;pedestrian walkway,&rdquo; this maze-like system of semi-public hallways connects the basements of more than 50 Loop buildings, including municipal buildings like City Hall and the Thompson Center, shopping centers like Macy&rsquo;s and Block 37, and a few newer residential buildings, like the hypermodern Aqua tower. The Pedway also snakes through two CTA stations, a Metra station and several underground parking garages along Michigan Avenue.</p><p>Although the Pedway provides a climate-controlled alternative to Chicago&rsquo;s sidewalks, it&rsquo;s more than just a thoroughfare. Under its fluorescent lights and beige ceiling tiles you can get your haircut, get a clock fixed, grab coffee, shop for a blender or order new license plates.</p><p>Perhaps that&rsquo;s why Amanda Scotese offers walking tours of the Pedway through <a href="http://www.chicagodetours.com/">Chicago Detours</a>, her unconventional tourism company. As Scotese&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagodetours.com/images/chicago-pedway-map-detours.pdf">carefully researched Pedway map</a> illustrates, this system of tunnels is a disconnected mishmash. Although the Chicago Department of Transportation technically oversees the Pedway, many sections are owned by other government entities, while still others are privately owned and controlled by the management of whatever building they pass underneath.</p><p>Case in point: During a recent afternoon rush hour visit to the Pedway, Scotese, our question-asker Karri and I were stymied by a section of the Pedway under City Hall that closed promptly at 5 p.m.</p><p><strong>2. CTA tunnels</strong></p><p>File these tunnels under those you probably take for granted. Although the city prides itself on its extensive network of elevated trains, two downtown subway tunnels also move commuters through the Loop. These tunnels are now owned and operated by the CTA, and in 2012, the combined &ldquo;L&rdquo; stops inside the two tunnels <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/ridership_reports/2012-Annual.pdf">served an average</a> of 82,343 passengers every weekday.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />The first tunnel runs beneath State Street and serves the Red Line. The second goes under Dearborn Street and Milwaukee Avenue and serves the Blue Line.</p><p>The city began digging the two subway tunnels in 1938, with the help of money from FDR&rsquo;s New Deal and the Works Progress Administration.</p><p>Meant to accommodate crosstown &ldquo;L&rdquo; traffic, which could become snarled in the Loop, the tunnels range from 20 to 60 feet underground. Steel and concrete tubes 200 feet long housed the tunnels as they passed under the Chicago River.</p><p>As was the case with previous public works, the opening of the State Street subway tunnel in 1943 was cause for celebration: The curators of the transit history site <a href="http://www.chicago-l.org/">Chicago L</a> <a href="http://www.chicago-l.org/operations/lines/state_subway.html">describe the festivities</a> this way:</p><blockquote><p><em>Between 10:25 and 10:45 a.m., ten special trains arrived at State and Madison to unload their passengers. At 10:47 a.m., Mayor Kelly cut a ceremonial red, white, and blue ribbon strung across the northbound track, officially giving the new subway to the city.</em></p></blockquote><p>The Dearborn Street tunnel, delayed by World War II, was completed in 1951.</p><p><strong>3. Freight tunnels</strong></p><p>Of all the tunnels under the Loop, the 60 miles of freight tunnels 40 feet underground are the most extensive. They also happen to be unique to Chicago.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-3.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" />Dug by a private company between 1899 and 1906, these tunnels were meant to hide many miles of telephone cable. But transit historian Bruce Moffat says that somewhere during the construction process &ldquo;the company&rsquo;s promoters decided to build very large conduits &mdash; large enough for freight trains.&rdquo;</p><p>Tiny freight trains, that is. The tunnels were only seven feet tall and horseshoe-shaped, with concrete walls and tracks running along the floor. Meaning ... these freight cars were no bigger than small dumpsters.</p><p>This literal underground railroad delivered coal and freight to the sub-basements of prominent buildings in the Loop: City Hall, the Tribune Tower, the Merchandise Mart and dozens more.</p><p>The tunnels stretched from 16th Street to River North and the Field Museum. Remarkably, the tunnel system followed the street grid above so, to this day, you can navigate the freight tunnels using an ordinary Chicago street map.</p><p>That is if you could get inside. Most of the tunnel entrances were sealed in 1992, after a construction crew driving pilings into the Chicago River punctured the tunnels, flooding them and the buildings to which they were connected.</p><p>(We thought these freight tunnels were so interesting that they warranted their own radio story. Stay tuned, as it will air during WBEZ&rsquo;s June 21 broadcast of <em>All Things Considered</em>.)</p><p><strong>4. Cable car tunnels</strong></p><p>Between 1882 and 1906 it was the cable car network, not the &ldquo;L,&rdquo; that served as Chicago&rsquo;s main form of public transit. In fact, Chicago&rsquo;s cable car system was once the largest and most profitable of its kind.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-4.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />The technology that powered cable cars &mdash; a single, continuous underground cable &mdash; wasn&rsquo;t compatible with the drawbridges that carried most other traffic over the Chicago River. Tunnels, though, could extend cable car service beyond the Loop to the city&rsquo;s North and West Sides.</p><p>The first two cable car tunnels made West Side service possible via Washington Street and North Side service possible via LaSalle. These tunnels were expanded from remnants of pedestrian and wagon tunnels dug at the same locations in 1869 and 1871. In fact, just a few months after it opened, the LaSalle Street tunnel served as a major escape route during the Great Chicago Fire.</p><p>Sitting 60 feet below ground, these new cable car tunnels were deeper than their predecessors, but they also happened to be steeper. The new tunnels had a 12 percent grade &mdash; three times the rise of today&rsquo;s CTA trains.&nbsp;</p><p>A private company built a third cable car tunnel between Van Buren and Jackson Streets in 1894. All three tunnels were later adapted for electric street cars, which replaced cable cars beginning in 1906.</p><p>But both means of transit ultimately fell out of use. When the &ldquo;L&rdquo; became ascendant the cable car tunnels were abandoned and sealed.&nbsp;</p><p>They&rsquo;re still there, though, and there&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/search-chicago%E2%80%99s-abandoned-cable-car-tunnels-107715">plenty more to read about their remnants</a>.</p><p><strong>5. Water tunnels</strong></p><p>In 1867 Chicago built an intake crib two miles out in Lake Michigan to collect fresh drinking water for the growing city. Earlier efforts to collect water closer to shore had failed. If this fact inspires a big yawn from you, consider that at this point the city was still dumping sewage into the Chicago River, which fed directly into the lake.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-5.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />This new crib fed water to the Pumping Station at Chicago and Michigan Avenues via a five foot tall, oval-shaped, brick-lined tunnel more than 10,000 feet long. At the time it was considered an engineering marvel. The crib-and-tunnel solution to water collection proved effective enough that Chicago built seven more intake cribs before 1935.</p><p>Those intake tunnels now feed through the city&rsquo;s two filtration plants, but at least one tunnel was taken out of service and sealed when a portion of it collapsed near Lake Shore Drive in 1998. Officials also shut down portions of the drive during repairs, fearing the collapse might be a hazard for motorists.</p><p>But the city is tight-lipped about what other parts of this infrastructure remain in use. We wanted to know where the remaining tunnels are located and how deep underground they are, but the Department of Water Management denied our request.</p><p>Tom LaPorte, the department&rsquo;s spokesperson and Assistant Commissioner, said the department feared such information might make the city&rsquo;s water infrastructure more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re the world&rsquo;s largest water treatment facility,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Anything that&rsquo;s going to put us at risk we&rsquo;re not going to do, even for WBEZ.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>6. The Deep Tunnel</strong></p><p>The Deep Tunnel is rarely referred to by its full name, the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP). But its nickname is apt; at a maximum depth of 350 feet it&rsquo;s the deepest of the six sets of tunnels we&rsquo;re treating here. When Chicago&rsquo;s freight tunnels flooded in 1992, the water was drained into here.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-6.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />This network of giant overflow sewers was built to prevent flooding and cut pollution in the region&rsquo;s waterways. When heavy storms hit the Chicago area, excess rainwater funnels into the Deep Tunnel system rather than into the lake.</p><p>The tunnels&rsquo; depth is not the project&rsquo;s only stunning statistic. As <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_and_Reservoir_Plan">one writer</a> put it, &ldquo;the mega-project is one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in terms of scope, cost and timeframe.&rdquo;</p><p>Phase 1 construction, a network of nearly 110 miles of tunnels designed to store 2.3 billion gallons of water, began in 1975 and was not completed until 2006. Three enormous reservoirs, designed to store an additional 14.8 billion gallons of water, are set to be completed by 2029.</p><p>The Deep Tunnel&rsquo;s operator, The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, kindly offered us a tour of the project&rsquo;s south suburban pumping station, which, they told us, has a main chamber &ldquo;the size of two NBA basketball courts.&rdquo;</p><p>We declined their offer, but only for now. Curious City receives so many different questions about the Deep Tunnel and its economic and environmental impact that we&rsquo;re planning a separate story for later this summer digging into that.</p><p><strong>Tunnels aplenty, but running out of space</strong></p><p>So Chicago is chock full of tunnels, at least downtown. There are other tunnels, too, in other parts of the city. Since I&rsquo;ve started my reporting I&rsquo;ve had sources regale me with tales of industrial tunnels that connect factories in Bridgeport, and listeners write in with tidbits about a tunnel that might run under Midway Airport.</p><p>But is the time for tunnels over in this city? Or could we see the construction of new tunnels in the future?</p><p>Sources we talked to said it&rsquo;s unlikely. Most of the tunnels detailed above were built during Chicago&rsquo;s greatest growth and expansion. Chicago had 330,000 residents in 1870, but it boasted over a million just 20 years later. Major works of infrastructure, whether financed publicly or privately, were needed to support and encourage such growth.</p><p>But now, Chicago&rsquo;s population is declining &mdash; as many as 181,000 people left the city between 2000 and 2010 &mdash; even if some parts of town, like the Loop, have grown lately.</p><p>And between all the tunnels already under the Loop and other kinds of buried municipal and private infrastructure, it&rsquo;s pretty crowded underground. While there&rsquo;s no shortage of ongoing infrastructure projects abounding in Chicago, whether it&rsquo;s the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/bloomingdale-trail-reveals-chicagos-idea-grand-city-planning-102655">renovation of the Bloomingdale Trail</a> (sorry, I mean <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/06/17/sneak-peek-606">the 606</a>), upgrades to the Chicago riverfront or basic maintenance to the city&rsquo;s sewers, only the Deep Tunnel remains on the city&rsquo;s tunnel horizon.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That means that every tunnel down there now will one day be old. We may even abandon the newer ones someday in favor of better, more efficient solutions that haven&rsquo;t yet been invented.</p><p>For our question-asker Karri, that&rsquo;s a good reminder to pay attention to what&rsquo;s there now.</p><p>&ldquo;You work up in an office cubicle and don&rsquo;t think about [what&rsquo;s underground],&rdquo; Karri said. Exploring that infrastructure now &ldquo;can remind you of a flood, or the original purpose of the area, the history of it.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I guess that&rsquo;s its value.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Jun 2013 19:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/six-tunnels-hidden-under-chicago%E2%80%99s-loop-107791 How the Dan Ryan changed the South Side http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-dan-ryan-changed-south-side-107536 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F95603153&amp;color=00a8ff&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If you&rsquo;re personally familiar with Chicago&rsquo;s Dan Ryan Expressway, your appreciation for this story will greatly improve if you stop reading for a moment, visualize your last trip and consider some stats you probably never compiled.</p><p>Maybe you never counted the number of lanes (there are 14, counting both local and express traffic), or you missed the fact that &mdash; all told &mdash; there are 62 ramps on the expressway. And even if you were driving alone, you had a lot of company; each day, more than 250,000 drivers zip along the 9-mile long stretch, which moves south from Roosevelt Road to 95th Street.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ryne Holmquist for web.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 175px; float: right;" title="Question asker Ryne Holmquist has spent many hours traversing the Dan Ryan Expressway from Chicago to Northwest Indiana. (Courtesy Ryne Holmquist)" /></p><p>Come to think of it, maybe you&rsquo;d be impressed even if your tires never touched the expressway&rsquo;s pavement.</p><p>Well, the Dan Ryan&rsquo;s inspired several Curious City questions, the bulk of them from Ryne Holmquist of Chicago&#39;s Pilsen neighborhood. Ryne&rsquo;s grandparents grew up in Woodlawn, and he&rsquo;d asked them what their lives were like on the South Side. But, he says, he wanted to know more. Curious City editors and producers condensed his questions into this:</p><p><em>What did the Chicago South Side look like before the Dan Ryan Expressway?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s a broad question to be sure, so it helped to know that Ryne was particularly interested in why the expressway was constructed in the first place, and a little about whether the area&rsquo;s racial makeup changed.</p><p>And here&rsquo;s where we &mdash; four University of Chicago undergraduates &mdash; step in. We addressed Ryne&rsquo;s questions by reading city archives, poring over historical maps and collecting relevant photographs. We also talked to people who recall the days before the Dan Ryan&rsquo;s arrival, and we also hoofed it around several South Side neighborhoods.</p><p>The skinny is that the South Side changed forever after the Dan Ryan&rsquo;s arrival, but maybe not entirely because of the Dan Ryan itself.&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dan Ryan Group shot.jpg" style="height: 299px; width: 400px; float: right;" title="Our University of Chicago team from right to left: Alice Ye, Begum Cital, Samantha Brown, Sam Brandt. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p><strong>Why the behemoth in the first place?</strong></p><p>The expressway was originally called the South Route. In 1961, it was renamed after Dan Ryan Jr., the former president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and a strong proponent of expressways.</p><p>When it opened in 1962 the Dan Ryan promptly became host to shenanigans.</p><p>We learned some of these accounts from Andy Plummer, a transportation historian who documents the Cook Expressways on his <a href="http://cookexpressways.com/story.html">website</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;The thing I remember about the Dan Ryan was that there was a vendor that came onto the expressway using the ramp,&quot; he says. &quot;He figured with all those people there, he was going to be able to sell some hotdogs. ... He was the first one arrested.&rdquo;</p><p>Plummer&#39;s got a lot of personal history with expressways, too. He&rsquo;s worked on studies concerning the Dan Ryan (both before and after construction), and his father was involved in planning many Chicago expressways.</p><p>Before the Dan Ryan, Chicago had already built the Congress Expressway (1955) and the&nbsp;Kennedy Expressway (1960).</p><p>&quot;The motivation for the South Route was the same as the Northwest and Congress,&quot; Plummer says. &quot;And that was to have a freeway system that served all of the city of Chicago and that focused on the downtown.&quot;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority.jpg" style="height: 257px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Aerial shot of the newly constructed Dan Ryan Expressway, 1960s, from Chicago Transit Authority. Pretty swanky, huh? When the first section opened in 1961, the Dan Ryan was the widest and busiest highway in the world. (Courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority)" /></p><p>This was the era of post-World War II renewal, a time when city planners, politicians, and government officials believed a superhighway would protect the downtown area&rsquo;s economic vitality. It was part of an urban renewal movement meant to revitalize inner cities, all while accounting for Americans&rsquo; growing infatuation with the automobile. And with superhighways cropping up in Los Angeles and New York City, Chicago felt the pressure to catch up.</p><p><strong>How&rsquo;d they manage the alternatives?</strong></p><p>Planning for the Dan Ryan stems back to the 1920s. Then, Plummer says,</p><p>&ldquo;The city was still enamored with the idea of using Lake Shore Drive as their superhighway system.</p><p>&ldquo;But because of several issues, [Lake Shore Drive] could not be brought up to the correct and high enough standards. So gradually, the alignment moved west. The next alignment, the most prevalent through the 30s and 40s was basically along State Street. Then it migrated west.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Dispelling an urban legend</strong></p><p>But what about Ryne&rsquo;s interest in the racial makeup of the area? (&ldquo;Were there black neighborhoods, white neighborhoods?&rdquo;)</p><p>We should note that the Dan Ryan&rsquo;s final route took more than a decade to sort out, but when all was said and done, the expressway did mark a division between the predominantly white neighborhood of Bridgeport and the expanding &ldquo;Black Belt&rdquo; neighborhoods to the east. Chicago&rsquo;s long-standing racial segregation is infamous, but did the Dan Ryan create racial boundaries or reinforce them?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/danryanreroutemapio7%20%281%29.png" style="float: left;" title="Map showing initial route and final route of the expressway, with 1950s census data. (Courtesy of Dennis McClendon)" /></p><p>Available maps and data can shed light on this. In 1940 the highest concentration of blacks stretched along the &ldquo;Black Belt,&rdquo; which spanned south from 31st to 60th, and went east from the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad tracks to Cottage Grove Avenue. By 1970, the boundary between blacks and whites had shifted several blocks west, along the Pennsylvania Railroad and encompassing the area now occupied by the Dan Ryan.</p><p>But Dennis McClendon&rsquo;s map, which incorporates data drawn from the 1950 census, suggests that blacks were moving west before the expressway was finished. Note the light purple areas that show blacks&rsquo; presence just north of Garfield Avenue. This means if the Dan Ryan was a barrier, it wasn&rsquo;t a very effective one &mdash; at least south of Bridgeport.</p><p>Dominic Pacyga in <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo7877998.html"><em>Chicago: A Biography</em></a> argues that other barriers &mdash; such as political power, street gangs, railroad viaducts, and railyards &mdash; posed greater obstacles to blacks&#39; expansion into white neighborhoods.</p><p>And <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95360819@N04/8831658262/in/photolist-esqyj3-cT3z1w-cRvLrq-cRvHsY-cRvJm5-cRvLyY-cRvJYy-cRvHCm-cRvJuf-cT3xWC-cT3ryd-cT3Jo1-cT3iyN-cT3n7u-cT3B71-cSMEiY-cSNi8j-cT3BLJ-cSQyPS-cSX2Km-cT3ugG-cT3rgf-cSMsEW-cT3vt5-cRvGdb-cRvThj-cRvG5w-cRvPDq-cRvQsW-cRvELb-cRvSN1-cRvEf3-cRvEBQ-c9qaAm-c9qhsd-c9qeSy-c9qfWA-cRvLgd-cRvNqE-cRvEss-cRvJaL-c9qtv7-c9qnGE-c9qrv9-c9qbiE-c9qi2W-c9qvfJ-adhFtY-adhCTm-adeLBx-adhvbw/lightbox/">Paul Bruce</a>, a tour guide for the South Side, adds that the Dan Ryan may have &ldquo;reinforced the separation between blacks and white&rdquo; but it only &ldquo;continued the pattern that was there ... it didn&rsquo;t create the pattern. ... The Dan Ryan reinforced boundaries but made it possible to get out to the Southwest Side of Chicago, where the cornfields had been. ... It made it possible to get to the suburbs and still get back into the city quickly.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, Bruce says, the expressway &quot;helped expedite the exodus of the white community from the Southwest Side.&quot;</p><p><strong>Did the Dan Ryan arrive without a fight?</strong></p><p>With so much change in order, it&rsquo;s a fair question to ask where the neighborhood itself landed on the issue of the looming construction.</p><p>&ldquo;People didn&rsquo;t really know what expressways were on the South Side,&quot; says Paul Bruce. &quot;With the Dan Ryan, the properties that they bought were very working-class neighborhoods. No one was going to fight for a little 5-room cottage tucked away by the railroads that still had steam locomotives running through, spilling steam and cinders on you. Those people were sometimes very happy to sell out and go because they weren&rsquo;t living in the ideal neighborhood anyway.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>But the South Side was not (nor is it now) a homogenous place. &ldquo;Now a little farther south in the 70s and 80s where the Dan Ryan cut through the bungalow belt built in the 1920s, there was some opposition,&rdquo; Bruce says. &ldquo;Because, &lsquo;You know, my father built this beautiful two-flat and we&rsquo;ve taken care of it and we don&rsquo;t want to go.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>Compare this to what happened during the 1970s, when Chicago was pushing for the Crosstown Expressway (never built). There was more opposition this time, Bruce says, because people didn&rsquo;t want to give up their homes.</p><p>Plummer sums up the positive atmosphere regarding superhighway building before the Crosstown Expressway proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;There was a different feeling then and that was [what] people wanted ... a good way to get from point A to point B in their car.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The Dan Ryan, for good or ill</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/11536.html">Archival photos</a> in the Encyclopedia of Chicago and the Chicago History Museum show properties were eaten up to make space for the Dan Ryan. Bruce tells us that some buildings were actually relocated.</p><p>&ldquo;If they bought your bungalow or your two-flat building, if you wanted to you could buy it back for a dollar and have it put on rollers and have it rolled somewhere else,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So you could go to State Street at midnight sometimes and see a two-flat building going down the street to a new location. Somebody had bought a lot and put it on rollers and just rolled it away.&rdquo;</p><p>But this didn&rsquo;t happen often, as many of these properties were run-down residential buildings and churches.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sanborn%20map.jpg" style="height: 470px; width: 325px; float: right;" title="Sanborn map of 46th &amp; Wentworth circa 1895. This area was demolished for the expressway. (ProQuest Sanborn Maps GeoEdition)" /></p><p>Chris Goes of Goes Lithography Co. had a plant at 61st Street beside the Dan Ryan. He observes that the structures displaced were &ldquo;very old buildings by the time that the racial makeup began to change, with poor sanitation and construction. Mostly black [migrants] came and settled in these poor areas.&rdquo;</p><p>But what effect did such displacement have on the South Side&#39;s peripheral neighborhoods, the ones not directly along the Dan Ryan&rsquo;s path? Our sources suggest that the South Side&rsquo;s economic decline cannot be attributed directly to the expressway.</p><p>&ldquo;There were plenty of other factors mixed in there,&quot; says Plummer. &quot;With basically the closing down of the [Union] Stock Yards and the shutting down of Pullman, those kinds of things ... had more effect on [periphery neighborhoods] than the expressway.&rdquo;</p><p>Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (compiled by student Sam Brandt) suggest Plummer&#39;s got a point. Neighborhoods across the South Side had been home to a diverse mix of industrial giants, including the stockyards. These giants, though, weren&#39;t slain by a behemoth expressway alone. In cases like this, it&rsquo;s not what&rsquo;s cutting through the neighborhoods, but the businesses around them that determine their character.</p><p><strong>Our final thoughts</strong></p><p>Following World War II, the Dan Ryan continued a development trend that major cities were in love with: creating miles and miles of superhighway systems to hustle more people downtown.</p><p>Though an important piece to Chicago&rsquo;s urban renewal plans, the Dan Ryan did not play a critical role in altering the South Side&rsquo;s post-war landscape. For example, the fact that it was built adjacent to the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad shows that planners considered existing neighborhood layouts.</p><p>Ultimately, the Dan Ryan did integrate itself into the daily bustle of South Side residents, but it wasn&rsquo;t always an easy fit.</p><div id="PictoBrowser130604223047">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Curious City: Jay Wolke photos from Along the Divide"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157633937266366"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "on"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "center"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser130604223047"); </script><p>We talked to Jay Wolke, whose photography collection, <a href="http://www.jaywolke.com/index.php?g=4">Along the Divide</a>, showcased life and death along this expressway during the 1980s. Perhaps he sums it up best. He says he never looked at the expressway as just an object. It met a cultural need, he says, and that means it&rsquo;s a human subject.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a piece of engineering that separates and yet combines communities,&rdquo; Wolke says. &ldquo;It has a kind of dynamic where you can either be a part of it or you can be separated from it.&nbsp;It is a very dynamic system that we call this Dan Ryan Expressway.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 19:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-dan-ryan-changed-south-side-107536 Water, water everywhere, but not enough to drink http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/water-water-everywhere-not-enough-drink-107361 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/watertower%20flickr%20willitrun.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="The water tower at Chicago and Michigan Avenues. This landmark building served as a pumping station, used to deliver water from the lake starting in 1869. (Flickr/Willitrun) " /></div><p>The story of Chicago&rsquo;s founding as a modern American city sometimes reads like the creation myth of some bygone animist religion. We were meant to settle here, the story goes, because this is the spot where the winding Chicago River empties cleanly into the great blue expanse of Lake Michigan. This is the place where the prairie meets the water, where the water meets the prairie.</p><p>Great news &ndash; especially the water part &ndash; for a booming metropolis, right?&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It would seem that Chicago would have no problem,&rdquo; said Northwestern University historian Carl Smith. &ldquo;Twenty percent of the world&rsquo;s surface water is right there. . . What more could you want?&rdquo;</p><p>Actually, Smith says, Chicago&rsquo;s natural landscape proved a huge disadvantage to early settlers.</p><p>The ground was soggy and drained poorly. The river deposited silt in the lake and made navigation around the mouth of the river nearly impossible. And crucially, the city made the grave mistake of dumping its waste and pulling its drinking water from the same source.</p><p>Can you say cholera? It took an outbreak of the waterborne disease (and the surfacing of dead bodies in the shore-side cemetery) for city fathers to figure out what a bad idea this was.</p><p>Smith has studied of what came next, and the resulting book, <em><a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo15233177.html">City Water, City Life</a> (University of Chicago Press, 2013)</em>, outlines the Chicago&rsquo;s early attempts to build the kind of water infrastructure needed to support the Windy City&rsquo;s rapid growth.</p><p>The bigger Chicago got, the more desperate its water problems became. The city had 330,000 inhabitants by 1870, and over a million just 20 years later, making it the second largest in the country and ushering in a kind of urban density the country had never known.</p><p>You can&rsquo;t just let people fend for themselves at that point, Smith argues &ndash; especially if you need them.</p><p>&ldquo;As a matter of principle you cannot deprive people of water, and [in] practice you need these people, particularly to work the jobs in the city,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In the audio above, Smith explores Chicago&rsquo;s first few attempts to lick this problem. It&rsquo;s a shockingly juicy tale for a bit of urban planning history.</p><p>My favorite part? The one where fish came right out of the taps!</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Carl Smith spoke at an event presented by the Newberry in May of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/city-water-city-life-water-and-infrastructure-ideas-urbanizing-philadelphia">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 15:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/water-water-everywhere-not-enough-drink-107361 City Water, City Life: Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/city-water-city-life-water-and-infrastructure-ideas-urbanizing-philadelphia <p><p>A city is more than a massing of citizens, a layout of buildings and streets, or an arrangement of institutions. It is also an infrastructure of ideas, an embodiment of the beliefs, values, and aspirations of the people who created it. In <em>City Water, City Life</em>, historian <strong>Carl Smith</strong> explores this infrastructure of ideas through an examination of the development of the first successful waterworks systems in Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago between the 1790s and the 1860s.</p><div>Through an analysis of a broad range of sources,<strong> </strong>Dr. Smith shows how the discussion, design, and use of waterworks reveal how Americans framed their conceptions of urban democracy and how they understood the natural and the built environment, individual health and the well-being of society, and the qualities of time and history.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>City Water, City Life</em> is more than a history of urbanization. It is also a meditation on water as a necessity, as a resource for commerce and industry, and as an essential&mdash;and central&mdash;part of how we define our civilization.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Carl Smith is the Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies and professor of history at Northwestern University. His books include three prize-winning volumes: <em>Chicago and the American Literary Imagination</em>,<em> 1880-1920</em>; <em>Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire</em>,<em> the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman</em>; and <em>The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TNL-webstory_4.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at The Newberry Library.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 May 2013 10:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/city-water-city-life-water-and-infrastructure-ideas-urbanizing-philadelphia That giant gaping hole on the Southside of Chicago? It may not be a sinkhole after all http://www.wbez.org/news/giant-gaping-hole-southside-chicago-it-may-not-be-sinkhole-after-all-106727 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sinkhole.jpg" title="Officials survey a gaping hole that opened up a residential street on Chicago's South Side after a cast iron water main dating back to 1915 broke during a massive rain storm. (AP/File)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88462957" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>A 40-foot hole opened up on a residential street on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. It swallowed up three cars and a man who suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Many are calling it a sinkhole. But that might not be quite right.</p><p>Anthony Randazzo is professor emeritus at the University of Florida&rsquo;s geological science department and president of Geohazards, Inc, a business that consults on sinkhole issues all around the world.</p><p>He says that the 40-foot hole is actually a giant pothole.</p><p>&ldquo;Unfortunately, journalists don&rsquo;t like to be told what they have is a pothole and not a sinkhole because that&rsquo;s far less glamorous,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Randazzo said sometimes companies that fix these kinds of problems also misuse the term.&nbsp; &ldquo;Sinkhole&rdquo; sounds far more terrifying than &ldquo;pothole&rdquo; and so they can charge more to fix the issue.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the real difference according to Randazzo:</p><p>Water chemically dissolves limestone, and other similar stones, over many years, forming underground caverns. If one of those caverns collapses, then you got yourself a sinkhole.</p><p>In Chicago, a water main broke, perhaps due to the extreme downpour. That physically-- not chemically which is key-- eroded the soil. The result was a pothole.</p><p>In Illinois, we don&rsquo;t have much limestone, so true sinkholes are unlikely. They are more common in places like Florida, where limestone is present.</p><p>But don&rsquo;t be deceived, said Randazzo, potholes can be a real problem for big cities.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a rapid deterioration of infrastructure in major cities,&rdquo; said Randazzo. &ldquo;You can expect to see more of this.&rdquo;</p><p><em>If potholes don&rsquo;t sound quite terrifying enough to describe the pictures and videos you&rsquo;ve seen today, feel free to tweet me your alternative titles at <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h </a>or leave them in the comments.&nbsp;</em></p> <iframe src='http://embed.newsinc.com/Single/iframe.html?WID=1&VID=24744887&freewheel=69016&sitesection=cltv_localnews&width=601&height=338' height='338' width='620' scrolling='no' frameborder='0' marginwidth='0' marginheight='0'></iframe></p> Thu, 18 Apr 2013 14:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/giant-gaping-hole-southside-chicago-it-may-not-be-sinkhole-after-all-106727 Illinois' not-so-magnificent miles http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/illinois-not-so-magnificent-miles-106153 <p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>&#39;SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE.&#39;</strong> That&#39;s the American Society of Civil Engineers president assessing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-illinois-infrastructure-report-card-0319-20130319,0,4904502.story" target="_blank">the D-plus his group&#39;s awarding Illinois for condition of its infrastructure</a>. The <em>Tribune</em> says the society found 73 percent of Illinois roads in poor or mediocre shape -- at an average annual cost to the typical motorist of $292 in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.<br />* So come for a visit -- but just don&#39;t drive: Chicago&#39;s set to <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-chicago-tourism-bureau-sees-new-taxes-doubling-budget-to-32m-20130318,0,2517516.story" target="_blank">double its tourism and convention bureau budget</a> this year.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>&#39;MAYOR STEPHENS WANTS THE CUBS TO KNOW THEY HAVE AN OPTION.&#39;</strong> A spokesman for Rosemont elaborates on an offer to <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18944715-761/the-rosemont-cubs-thats-what-suburbs-mayor-is-pushing-for.html" target="_blank">give the Ricketts family 25 acres of land to build a replica of Wrigley Field in the &#39;burbs</a>&nbsp;if things don&#39;t work out in Chicago.<br />* Plan to spend&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-plans-to-expand-concert-pavilion-at-northerly-island-20130318,0,1261432.story" target="_blank">$3 million to expand the Northerly Island concert pavilion</a>&nbsp;up for vote Thursday.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>&#39;APOLOGIZE ON AIR FOR SYMPATHIZING WITH THE STEUBENVILLE RAPISTS.&#39;</strong> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/18/cnn-steubenville-rape-petition_n_2901462.html?ir=Media" target="_blank">More than 100,000 people</a> have signed <a href="https://www.change.org/petitions/cnn-apologize-on-air-for-sympathizing-with-the-steubenville-rapists" target="_blank">an online petition</a> demanding CNN renounce its &quot;disgusting&quot; portrayal of two athletes convicted of raping a woman.<br />* <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/18/fox-news-steubenville-rape-victim_n_2901635.html?ir=Media" target="_blank">TV networks aired 16-year-old rape victim&#39;s name</a>.<br />* Blogger who flagged Steubenville case fights <a href="http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/how-blogger-helped-steubenville-rape-case-unfold-online/" target="_blank">criticism she helped create &quot;Internet lynch mob.&quot;</a></span></p><hr /><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 20px;"><em><span style="color: rgb(128, 0, 0);">Get this blog by email, free.&nbsp;</span><a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.</em></span></span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>THE STATE OF JOURNALISM.&nbsp;</strong>Know the story of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant" target="_blank">the blind men and the elephant</a>? That&#39;s the sort of treatment the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/2012/03/19/state-of-the-news-media-2012/" target="_blank">Pew Research Center&rsquo;s 2012 News Media Consumption</a> survey is getting. Choose your own adventure:<br />* &quot;Report:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/03/18/report_local_news_somehow_even_worse_than_it_was_before/" target="_blank">Local news somehow even worse than it was before</a>.&quot;<br />* &quot;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/03/new-coverage-local-politics-fading-away" target="_blank">News Coverage of Local Politics Is Fading Away</a>.&quot;<br />* &quot;State of the media: <a href="http://paidcontent.org/2013/03/18/state-of-the-media-the-cracks-are-still-widening-but-some-light-is-also-getting-in/" target="_blank">The cracks are still widening, but some light is also getting in</a>.&quot;<br />* &quot;<a href="http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/digital-as-mobile-grows-rapidly-the-pressures-on-news-intensify/" target="_blank">As Mobile Grows Rapidly, the Pressures on News Intensify</a>.&quot;<br />* &quot;<a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/207392/nearly-one-third-of-u-s-adults-have-abandoned-a-news-outlet-due-to-dissatisfaction/" target="_blank">Nearly one-third of U.S. adults have abandoned a news outlet due to dissatisfaction</a>.&quot;<br />* &quot;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/03/this-is-the-scariest-statistic-about-the-newspaper-business-today/274125/" target="_blank">This Is the Scariest Statistic About the Newspaper Business Today</a>.&quot;<br />* &quot;<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/03/18/state_of_the_news_pew_analysis_shows_cnn_drop_in_reported_pieces_and_domination.html">Newspaper Newsroom Staff Numbers Are at Lowest Point Since 1978</a>.&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>... AND SO, CRY &#39;HYPOCRISY&#39; IF YOU WILL. BUT NOT IF YOU CLICK HERE.&nbsp;</strong><em>The Atlantic: </em>&quot;17,616 Men Went to the ER for <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/03/17-616-men-went-to-the-er-for-zipper-related-penis-injuries-between-2002-and-2010/274113/" target="_blank">Zipper-Related Penis Injuries</a> Between 2002 and 2010.&quot; &nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em><br /><em>* Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;<a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff">Email anytime</a>.</em><br /><em>* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.<br />* Looking for the most recent WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-quiz" target="_blank">Here you go</a>.</em></span></p></p> Tue, 19 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/illinois-not-so-magnificent-miles-106153 Navistar layoffs add to doubts about incentives http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/AP05060901633.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-23/Navistar_truck_SCALED.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 308px; height: 207px;" title="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)">Sears Holdings Corp. and Chicago’s financial exchanges have quit threatening to pull up stakes now that Illinois has enacted tax breaks for them. But it remains unclear whether state incentives to big companies are wise uses of economic-development resources. A personnel shift by Lisle-based Navistar International Corp. will add fresh doubt.</p><p>WBEZ has learned that some new jobs Navistar promised under an Illinois incentive agreement are coming to the state at the expense of unionized workers in Indiana.</p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the Navistar incentives last year after the company threatened to pack up its headquarters in west suburban Warrenville and leave the state. The deal committed Illinois to a $64.7 million bundle of tax credits and job-training subsidies for the company. It committed Navistar to moving the headquarters to Lisle, a couple miles east, and to adding 400 full-time Illinois employees.</p><p>Navistar’s first report to the state about the jobs isn’t due until next year, so it’s hard to tell how many positions the company has created thus far. Employees confirm that dozens of new engineers and designers are working at the Lisle facility.</p><p>Navistar is creating those jobs as it phases out its Truck Development and Technology Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, just three hours southeast of Chicago. The latest Fort Wayne cuts came December 2, when the company laid off 130 employees, mostly engineers and designers who are United Auto Workers members. Before the layoff, some of the Fort Wayne workers had to help train their Lisle replacements.</p><p>Navistar has “rewritten the job descriptions so the people that used to do the work here — the union folks — don’t qualify anymore on paper,” said Craig Randolph, a design engineer the company laid off after 15 years at the Fort Wayne center. “So they’re eliminating the high-seniority, older employees like myself and replacing them with nonunion college kids — guys fresh out of school. And the taxpayers in Illinois are subsidizing the whole thing.”</p><p>Asked for a response, Navistar spokeswoman Karen Denning called it unusual for engineers to have union representation in the first place, a claim disputed by auto industry experts. Denning also sent a statement that said the company’s decision to shift the Fort Wayne jobs to Lisle was “based solely on our desire to compete in the global economy.” The statement added that Navistar has allowed many Fort Wayne employees to relocate to the Chicago area and stay with the company.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sent a statement that doesn’t directly address whether the Navistar incentives have anything to do with the Fort Wayne layoffs. The statement says the state’s assistance to companies like Navistar over the last decade has “created and retained tens of thousands of jobs,” including unionized positions.</p><p>There’s not much proof to back up such claims. Scholars who study the effects of corporate incentives point out that companies decide where to operate based on proximity to suppliers, markets, transportation and so on. Another factor is whether workers are bargaining collectively. Just this summer, Navistar announced it was closing a unionized plant in Chatham, Ontario. The company has moved that work to nonunion facilities in Texas and Mexico.</p><p>“I don’t think that the [Illinois] incentives are causing Navistar to shift around its workforce,” said Rachel Weber, an associate professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “But they do send a message that the public sector and taxpayers are validating these kinds of activities. And, if you asked a lot of taxpayers in the state of Illinois whether they’d want to support these kinds of activities, I don’t think they’d be so happy about it.”</p><p>Weber pointed out that the economies of Illinois and Indiana intertwine closely and said it would help both states to quit poaching jobs from each other. Eliminating state incentives for corporations, she added, would free up resources for everything from workforce readiness to small-business incubation.</p><p>The union, for its part, didn’t return calls about the Fort Wayne layoffs and isn’t creating a public fuss about them. That raises questions about the role of UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, who serves on Navistar’s board of directors under a decades-old agreement that reserved the seat for the union. Because Williams draws salaries from both the UAW and Navistar, and because he once directed a UAW region that includes Illinois but not Indiana, some of the union’s Fort Wayne members accuse him of hanging them out to dry.</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 16:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives