Making the River Green
March 8, 2007
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The Chicago River has been traditionally dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day since 1962. Who started this tradition?
It was a plumber.
A plumber named Stephen Bailey. Mr. Bailey was a plumber that was contracted to find leaks into the Chicago River. This was done by placing a green dye into various openings of the waste system which provided a visual of any leaks.
It was in December of 1961 when the idea hit him on dying the River green for the next St. Patrick’s holiday. After consulting with city officials and the Fire Department, he was given the okay to make the river green.
The first year they used 100 pounds of dye which kept the river green for a week! In 1963 they used 50 pounds and the effect lasted 3 days. Finally in 1964, 25 pounds was used and it dissolved by the next day.
The dying of the Chicago River has become a world wide event and this year will be the 45th year.
Photograph of the Chicago River by T. Gregory â€“ 1996