Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune has a review of two new books looking at the Chicago River.
The books and Blair’s review come at a time when the Chicago River has been in the spotlight for a variety of reasons, from the threat of the Asian Carp to the proposal to use the Chicago River in more abundant ways to her levels of pollution.
The first, “The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed Its River and the Land Beyond,” by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams (CityFiles Press, $45, hardcover, 160 pages) has more than 150 never-before-published duotone images, taken between 1892 and 1930, this collection explores the history of the Chicago River and the impact its reversal had on the watershed all the way to the Mississippi River. Offering the most complete description available of the river reversal, the stories told here provide a better understanding as to how it was done and why it was necessary, as well as how the water from the Chicago River is treated. The photographs were pulled from a glass plate photo collection taken by the Sanitary District of Chicago.
The second, “Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago’s Waterways,” by Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang Architects, $30, paperback, 116 pages) weaves together diverse content and voices to explore how the complex challenges facing Chicago’s current waterway system can generate the revolutionary rebirth of its riverfront. The result of a yearlong collaboration between Studio Gang, NRDC, and students from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Reverse Effect was prompted by NRDC’s 2010 report calling for a barrier in the Chicago River’s South Branch to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi Watersheds and thereby prevent invasive carp from entering Lake Michigan. Investigating how dividing the river could also connect and recharge surrounding neighborhoods led Studio Gang to discover exciting new possibilities for the city they call home. Reverse Effect is meant to become a tool that can empower a new generation of Chicagoans-from architects and designers to policymakers, advocates, and everyday citizens-to reimagine and reshape the river’s future together, as well as a road map for the nation’s broader river renaissance.
Read Blair’s interesting and insightful review here.
You can buy “The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed Its River and the Land Beyond” here.
You can buy “Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago’s Waterways” here.