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Life Span: 1869-Present
Location: Pine and Chicago Streets
Architect: William W. Boyington
Chicago Water Works
Artist: Louis Kurz
Publisher: Jevne & Almini
Printer: Chicago Lithographing Co.
Published: January 1867
CHICAGO WATER WORKS—This view of the new Water Works of Chicago is taken from the West. In a former number we gave a view of the crib, or the lake end of the tunnel through which the city obtains the water from the lake. The building to the right is of white stone, and includes boiler rooms, engine rooms, and all the necessary apartments and offices for the persons employed in the establishment. Within the area covered by this building are three wells, one square well thirty by fifteen feet, and twenty feet deep; one circular well thirty-one feet in diameter and twenty-one feet deep; and one thirty-eight feet in diameter and thirty feet deep. This last well is not used, but kept in reserve for the future need of the city. Two new engines of nine hundred horse-power stand over the other circular well, resting on foundations of masonry. A drift or horizontal shaft one hundred and fifty-four feet long and four feet in diameter has been laid from main shaft, or shore end of the tunnel, to the gate chamber. From this chamber a passage one hundred and nine feet long extends to several wells. These are forty feet below the surface. The gate chamber has a depth of forty-five feet, and a diameter of eighteen feet. Within are five partition walls of masonry, with an equal number of gates to regulate the flow of the water. The two new engines are estimated to have the power of forcing eighteen million gallons of water a day. The cylinders are each forty-five inches in diameter, with eight-foot stroke. The pumps which are placed in the wells below the cylinders are double-acting, and twenty-six feet in diameter, with eight feet stroke. The boiler is twenty feet long, and eleven feet six inches in diameter. The white stone stack or chimney is one hundred feet high. The engine rooms measure one hundred and eighty-six by sixty feet.
In the front of the picture is the Water Tower. It is of white stone, and measures one hundred and thirty feet high. The base is twenty-four feet square, within which a spiral stair-case heads to an observatory overlooking the city, and affording a view of the water column in the center. The column within the tower will be three feet in diameter, and is made of wrought iron. The base has six nozzles, three of which receive the water from the pumps, and the others distribute it through the mains which supply the city.
The successful completion of the tunnel was followed by the construction of these new buildings, and on 25th of March, 1867, the corner stone of the building was laid with imposing ceremonies by the Masonic fraternity, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Jerome R. Gorin officiating. A grand military, civic and Masonic procession took place, and thousands of people were present on the occasion. The oration was delivered by the Hon. John B. Rice, Mayor of Chicago. Addresses were also made by Ex-Mayor F. C. Sherman and others. Both gentlemen paid deserved compliments to the scientific skill of E. S. Chesbrough, Esq., the engineer who superintended the whole work.
The entire cost of the Chicago Works, including tunnel, buildings, machinery, and all the requisites, was two millions five hundred thousand dollars. W. W. Boyington, Esq., was the architect of the buildings.
James W. Sheahan
Chicago Daily Tribune, January 14, 1867
THE NEW WATER WORKS
Before the crib was sunk in the lake, before even the first spade full of earth thrown up from the western end of the proposed tunnel, it was a foregone conclusion that the old Water Works would, in due time, be thrown aside for the new; and when the completion of the tunnel was announced, a few weeks ago, some of our residents flattered themselves with the idea that nothing more remained to be accomplished; that water and little fishes would stop running through the old works; and that, possibly, pipes full of pure water would immediately make their appearance in every kitchen and bed room in the city. These ideas, in the main, will be realized in a few months, and probably after August next, those who have had small fish brought to their houses several times a day, gratis, will be obliged to patronize fish markets, and pay for all the fish they carry away – just as people who have not patronized the old works a couple of years have been in the habit of doing.
The old pumping house will be torn away during the coming summer, and a larger building erected on the site, directly opposite the new tower, which will be 150 feet high. The water pumped up in the old house, comes from two small wells, and flows into them from the lake. Under the old engines is a large well, 25 feet in diameter, 20 feet from each of the small wells – the tree being directly on a line. The large well is dug; but can be connected with the smaller ones with very little trouble. A temporary connection is being made from the old suction pipe to the tunnel, and the work is expected to be completed in a few days, more or less. Work on the new tower has been temporarily suspended, but will be resumed in time for the completion of the tower at the specified date. Surrounding the tower will be a handsome park, bounded by Chicago avenue, Pearson, the lake, and Rush streets. Handsome trees and fountains will be planted and located in this park, which, it is earnestly to be hoped, will be a “thing of beauty” and “a joy forever.”
Details of Gate
This image of a page from the 1869 Annual Report of the Board of Public Works shows a cross section of the Water Tower with its standpipe connecting to the Pumping House. The tunnel leading out of the picture at the bottom right reaches down thirty feet and leads out two miles to the crib.
Photographed by John Carbutt
WATER WORKS DEDICATION
Water Tower Dedication March 25, 1867
The laying of the cornerstone of the Water Tower.
Photographer: Copelin and Melander
Chicago Daily Tribune, March 25, 1867
The following official order, from the Chief Marshal of the procession, contains a summary of the proceedings which will be carried out to-day on the occasion of the formal inauguration of the great Lake Tunnel, and the laying of the cornerstone of the new Water Works on the lake shore at the foot of Chicago avenue in the North Division:
PROGRAMME OF ARRANGEMENTS for laying the corner stone of the new buildings for the Chicago Water Works, March 25, A.D. 1867 (A.L. 5867).
The procession will be formed in the following order:
Platoon of Police.
Light Guard Band.
Apollo Commandery Knights’ Templars.
Subordinate Lodges of F.&A.M. in the following order:
Tylers, with drawn swords.
Secretary and Treasurer.
M.W. Grand Lodge F.&A.M., State of Illinois
Grand Tyler with Drawn Sword.
Principal Architect, with Square, Level and Plumb.
Past Grand Officers.
Junior Grand Warden, with Silver Vessel of Oil.
Senior Grand Warden, with Silver Vessel of Wine.
Deputy Grand Master, with Silver Vessel of Corn.
Master of the Oldest Lodge, carrying Book of Constitutions.
M.W. Grand Master, supported by Deacons and Rods.
Grand Standard Bearer.
Grand Sword Bearer, with Drawn Sword.
Great Union Band.
Chicago Commandery of Knights Templars.
Ellsworth Zouaves as Guard of Honor to Civil Division.
His Honor, the Mayor, as Orator of the Day.
Commissioners of the Board of Public Works.
Secretary of the Board.
City Engineer and First Assistant.
City Engineer Pumping Department.
Contractors Lake Tunnel.
Contractors of Machinery and Buildings.
Judges of the United States Court and other United States Officers.
Judiciary of the City of Chicago.
Heads of Departments of the City of Chicago and Principal Assistants.
Members of the Common Council.
Members of the Press.
Board of Education.
Officers and Principal Assistants Connected with Board of Public Works
Ex-Water and Police Commissioners.
Quackenbush Collegiate Guard.
Chicago Fire Department.
This illustration, also from the 1869 annual report, shows a cross section of the pumping engine designed by DeWitt C. Cregier.
Building the lake tunnel, which would connect the Water Tower to the Crib, 1867
Chicago Water Works Building,
After the 1871 Fire
Scientific American May 7, 1881
THE CHICAGO WATERWORKS.
The city of Chicago is justly noted for its business activity, its bold enterprises, its live way of doing things generally; and the history of the city water supply system, from its comparatively small beginning to its latest development, is cbaracteristic of the progressive spirit that pervades the great Northwest. Lying, as the city does, on a flat prairie with no natural elevation upon which to place a reservoir to insure a proper distribution of the water, and with no desible near source of supply, the engineers encountered exceptional difficulties in planning and executing the working insufficient, further improvements were instituted, inving a tunnel extending two miles into Lake Michigan. An accident having occurred which cut off the supply of water for a time, rendering a large area liable to the dangers of an uncombated conflagration, steps were taken to provide a water supply of such character and exteut as to render the possibility of even a temporary interruption very remote if not impossible. The first water works in Chicago were commenced in 1851, when the population of the city was about 35,000.
It was then thought that the small quantity of water discharged from the river would not affect the quality of the water in the lake at a point 1½, miles south. The works were put in operation in February. 1854, and consisted of one reservoir, containing about a half million oi gallons, and eight and three·quarters miles of iron pipe, beside the pumping engine. The population at this time had increased to about seventy thousand, and the growth of the city, together with the introduction of sewerage and the establishment of packing houses, distilleries, etc., increased the quantity of filth flowing into the lake to such an extent that complaints of the impurity and offensiveness of the water were frequently made, and it was proposed to extend an iron pipe, five feet in diameter, one mile out into the lake, to obtain a supply beyond the effect of the sewage. Various other experiments were discnssed, but it was finally decided to extend a tunnel two miles into the lake. The work was commenced May 26, 1864, and the tunnel with all of its appurtenances was completed in March, 1867. In this tunnel provision was made for extension either lakeward or landward without interrupting the supply through it, except for a very short time; but it was not supposed that an extension wauld he required for many years. The breakage of a siphon under Chicago Avenue Bridge, August 18, 1869 deprived the west division of the city of w ater for about sixty hours greatly endangering a large portion of the city.
This circumstance led the City Council to direct the Board of Public Works to take immediate action with reference to the wants of tbe city in this respect.
NORTH SIDE WATERWORKS AND PUMPING ENGINE ROOM
May 7, 1881`
It was decided to build a new tuunel, seven feet in diameter, parallel with the old one, extending six miles into the lake. This great work was commenced July 12, 1872, and finished July 7, 1874. Great difficulty was experienced in sinking both shore and crib shafts, but the work was finally accomplished in the most satisfactory manner. In the construction of the new tunnel, as in the old provision was made for extending it lakeward should sewage contaminations hereafter make it necessary or desirable.
The crib is a substantial structure of solid masonry, the three lower courses of which are built of granite, on account of its superior frost resisting qualities. The upper courses are of limestone, the arches are of brick, the filling of rubber, and the deck is composed of ordinary concrete, on the top of which is placed a layer of asphalt concrete. The light-h ouse tower is of brick, w ith an iron stairway. Upon the deck is built a brick house, in which the family of the person in care of the crib resides. No more desolate and isolated place of reside n ce could be illlagined than this is in winter. One might as well be on a desert island as far as human companionship is concerned, although there is a telephone line to the shore. But there are many days when the storms blow and the waves beat in their fury , and the broken, floating ice dashes against its sides, that no one goes out from the shore. It is said that some of those who have lived at the crib have found the isolation so iutolerable as to almost drive them insane. In the summer, however, boats constantly ply between the shore and the crib, carrying visitors, it being a favorite resort for boating and sailing parties.
Since the completion of the tunnel the immense growth of the city has so increased the sewerage flowing into the lake that it is believed that at times it extends as far as the crib and contaminates the water. Many plans have been suggested to remedy this, and on all hands it is confessed that the problem is a very grave one. It is probable that in ten years from now, with the present rate of increase, Chicago will have a million of inhabitants, and in that case no tunnel extending directly into the lake could insure pure water. The latest suggestion for procuring pure water for the city is that of Chicago’s eminent architect, Mr. W. W. Boyington, who proposes that the city shall purchase 100 acres of !and in Highlands, some 20 miles north of the city, where the ground is 130 feet higher than tbe city level. Here should be built an immense reservoir, into which water should be pumped from the lake, and thence conducted by a viaduct to the city.
The shore end of the tunnel is connected with the new North Side pumping works shown in our engraving, and extends to the West Side works. The building is a model of architectural beauty. Its style is castellated, and the tall water tower gives It a very imposing appearance.
(Left)The First Crib-Shoeing the Cast Iron Rings and Gate
(Right) Section of Tunnel
May 7, 1881`
The building contains four large pumping engines, two of which are in continual use, while the other two are held in reserve. The general appearance of these magnificent machines is seen in the upper view in the large engraving, the last one erected being shown in the foreground. This is a double engine, having a capacity of 36,000,000 gallons in twenty-four bours. The steam cylinder is 70 inches in diameter, stroke 10 feet. The working beams are each 28 feet long and weigh 20 tons. The fly wheel is 26 feet in diameter and weighs 40 tons.
The first engine was erected at these works in 1853. It had a capacity 7,500,000 gallons in twenty·four hours. The second engine, erected in 1857, had a capacity of 13, 000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours, and the third had a capacity of 18,000,000 gallons daily. The first and second engines were single, the third and fourth double. These engines are supplied with steam from five boilers 12 feet in diameter and 20 feet long.
In 1871 Chicago had 271 miles of pipe, now it has 500 miles, and it has over 3,000 fire hydrants. This extensive system of water supply has been perfected at an expense of about $8,000,000.
Since its survival of the Great Fire, the Chicago Water Tower became one of Chicago’s main symbols. The tower became functionally obsolete in 1911, although the pumping station still pumps water for the city.
The Original Water Works
Chicago Water Works
No better water can’t be found than that with which our City is constantly supplied.
It is taken from Lake Michigan, at the foot of Chicago Avenue.
The Water Works buildings are constructed of brick masonry, in the modern Italian style. The main building is fifty-four feet front, and 34 feet deep, with a wing on the either side—each 40 feet front, and 34 deep.
THE WATER TUNNELS—The old tunnel under the lake and the new tunnel under the city. The LAND OWNER artist under the lake and in the bowels of the earth.
Photographer: Charles R. Clark