Water cribs in Chicago

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Wilson Avenue crib, Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois.
Carter Harrison Crib shot from Dever Crib, Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois.
Carter Harrison Crib, 1910, Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois.

The water cribs in Chicago supply the City of Chicago with drinking water from Lake Michigan. Water is collected and transported through a tunnel leading from the cribs to the filtration plant that are close to 200 feet beneath the lake and vary in shape from circular to oval and in diameter from 10 to 20 feet. Lake water enters the cribs and flows through these tunnels to pumps at the Jardine Water Purification Plant (the world's largest) and the South Water Purification Plant where the water is then treated. From there it is pumped to all parts of the city as well as 118 suburbs. There are six different cribs, the Two-Mile Crib, Carter H. Harrison crib (located at 41°54′59″N 87°34′23″W / 41.91639°N 87.57306°W / 41.91639; -87.57306), William E Dever crib, Wilson Avenue crib (located at 41°57′58″N 87°35′28″W / 41.96611°N 87.59111°W / 41.96611; -87.59111), the Four-Mile crib (located at 41°52′22″N 87°32′45″W / 41.87278°N 87.54583°W / 41.87278; -87.54583) and 68th street crib (located at 41°47′10″N 87°31′54″W / 41.78611°N 87.53167°W / 41.78611; -87.53167) .

Two Mile Crib[edit]

The Two-Mile Crib was constructed as part of a scheme by Ellis S. Chesbrough in 1865, to help with the purification of the water because of damage caused by the city dumping sewage into the lake. Construction of the lake began in May 1864, miners and workers worked 24 hours a day and six days a week. The total completion of the project was on March 1867 and costing the city $380,784.[1] Purified water was pumped to the Chicago Avenue Pumping Station which still stands to this day at North Michigan avenue.

Four Mile Crib[edit]

The Four MIle Crib (located at 41°52′22″N 87°32′45″W / 41.87278°N 87.54583°W / 41.87278; -87.54583) was put into service in 1891 to help with the problem of getting uncontaminated water to Chicago and various neighborhoods. So they built it even further than the two mile crib. The brick alone cost $472,890.93, but the total project cost $1,526,143.68. This crib was very special, as there was a steam heating plant installed in 1898. This kept the crib at a temperature of 70 degrees and allowed plant workers to reside there during the winter, who helped to stop the formation of ice. In 1932, the Bureau of Lighthouses reported that a submarine cable had been laid and two rooms had been added on to the crib.[2]

Carter H. Harrison Crib / William E. Dever Crib[edit]

The Carter H. Harrison Crib (located at 41°54′59″N 87°34′23″W / 41.91639°N 87.57306°W / 41.91639; -87.57306) replaced the Two Mile Crib in 1900. This crib was replaced by The William E. Dever Crib (located at 41°57′58″N 87°35′28″W / 41.96611°N 87.59111°W / 41.96611; -87.59111) that was built alongside it in 1935. As the demand increased for water this meant that the Carter H. Harrison crib continued in service until 1997. In 1998 the tunnels leading from the Carter Harrison Crib to shore were drained for inspection, a process that was surrounded by controversy. Some experts feared that pumping the tunnels dry would result in a catastrophic collapse, while others guaranteed that collapse was not possible. Portions of the tunnel did in fact collapse. City lawyers soon filed suit against the engineers and contractors. The suit charged that the engineers, Alvord, Burdick & Howson, were negligent for advising the city that it was safe to drain the tunnels. It also charged that Luedtke Engineering Co., of Michigan, did the work in a way that caused the collapse. As a result of the collapse, the city spent $5.3 million to fill in a portion of the tunnel under Lake Shore Drive to prevent a possible additional collapse.

Carter-Harrison Crib images[edit]

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