I rode to Northerly Island last night for the first time since last year and the path on the lake side has completely collapsed in a couple of spots.
Does anyone know of the Parks department's plans about this? This would be a major reconstruction and would probably require an effective breakwater off the shore to prevent it from being washed out every few months.
This stupid thing:
Great report and photos, JeffB.
Chicagoans hold on to a lot of myths. In reality, the Chicago River has not been a river for a long time, if it ever even was. Also, Northerly Island is not a real island. They are both just sad dump sites that the city tries desperately to monetize. Chicago would be better off being what it is and and not pretending to be what it isn't. Bobby Douglass wasn't actually a quarterback, either.
So, what did all those unfortunate Eastland crew and passengers drown in then, a drainage ditch?
Reversing the river kept everyone from dying of waste-related illnesses like cholera. Talks about re-reversing it will likely continue and accelerate as water conservation issues continue to grow in importance with climate change.
Northerly Island was a part of the Burnham Plan of 1909. Well worth a read.
Talk about Chicago urban myths -- the 1885 cholera outbreak, which is often held out as justification for the reversal of the Chicago River, is now understood to be myth.
The idea that the cholera outbreak was on a scale like the bubonic plague is indeed a myth, but it is unquestionable that Chicago sending its sewage directly into the source of its drinking water led to smaller outbreaks of it. That and the filth that the stockyards and other industries were depositing into the river were of absolutely why they reversed it.
A few good books:
edit: updated version! https://www.amazon.com/Chicago-River-Natural-Unnatural-History/dp/0...
edit: I didn't realize Richard Lanyon had a new book out, this looks great/just ordered a used copy:
And this one is about London, but it's one of the best books I've ever read and is topical: https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Map-Londons-Terrifying-Epidemic/dp/159...
Considering how new all of this is, this is really sad. I hope they fix it (well) soon.
Assuming these are the same spots that have been at issue in the past, this looks like it will be a recurring problem until the Army Corps of Engineers figures out a workable breakwall solution (and how to pay for it).
When I was out there last spring, much of Northerly Island was closed off with barriers.
Based on the pictures and dates of those articles, I guess its been a lot longer than I remembered since I rode the full trail.
Yeah, that eastern part of the trail has had issues all along, but last year it was still passable and you could easily ride around the barriers.
Now you can't ride it, unless you have serious off-road skills, and you have to lift your bike over the southern barrier.
Before this, it was mainly issues with gravel and stones pushed over the trail by high waves and the underlying ground being eroded slowly. I guess this winter sped that process up and the pavement buckled.
I'm pessimistic that we'll see a lasting solution. It would be a major project just to fix the trail. But then add on the necessity of a breakwater, and it will be too costly.
I think we'll have half a trail on Northerly Island for the foreseeable future.