Winner of the American Regional History Publishing Award
Winner of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA)
One of ten "outstanding nominations" for the Abel Wolman Award
Used and abused. Straightened and channelized.
An Intimate Biography of
When French explorers Jolliet and Marquette used the Chicago portage to access the Mississippi River system, the Chicago River was but a humble, even sluggish, stream in the right place at the right time. That's the story of the making of Chicago. This is the other story – the story of the making and perpetual re-making of a river by everything from pre-glacial forces to the interventions of an emerging and mighty city.
Author Libby Hill brings together years of original research and the contributions of dozens of experts to tell the Chicago River's epic tale from its conception in prehistoric bedrock to the glorious rejuvenation it's undergoing today, and every exciting episode in between.
Imagine reading a biography of your spouse or best friend, and being surprised and delighted at the biographer's fresh take on somebody you thought you knew pretty well. Libby Hill has done that with this book, reintroducing me to a body of water I thought I knew, surprising me with new facts, and delighting me with new ways of thinking about the facts I thought I had mastered.
Libby Hill's book is a valuable resource for students and history buffs. It is a "must read" for anyone who wants to know how or why the course of the Chicago River was reversed. I highly recommend it.
It may not be much of a river, as rivers go, but what a history! From prehistoric glaciers to contemporary Deep Tunnel, Libby tells the whole fascinating story of the Chicago River with great enthusiasm, eloquence, and factual accuracy. Anyone who reads this book will never again take our hometown stream for granted. It's a must read for all Chicago buffs.