I love bascule bridges.

Chicago has more movable bridges than any other city. There is even a subtype of bascule bridge (the fixed-trunnion bascule bridge) called a “Chicago bridge.” Watching the bridges lift is always fun, but many of Chicago’s bridges are also quite lovely in their stationary state.

Some of my favorites:

–Marshall Suloway Bridge, where I was occasionally made late for work at the Reid Murdoch Building (on the left, with the clock tower).

Source: historicbridges.org

–The Irv Kupcinet Bridge, which is shockingly beautiful at night.

Source: hyatt.com

–The Ashland Avenue Bridge, which features distinctive art deco reliefs.

–The Cherry Avenue Bridge, although it doesn’t actually move anymore, has an unusual asymmetry.

Source: bridgehunter.com

To learn more about the mechanics of the well-known Du Sable Bridge at 376 N. Michigan Avenue, visit the Chicago Bridgehouse Museum (or read this page from their web site).


I love that once a year, plumbers dye the river green.

St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend, and people will be lining up at Columbus and Wabash on Saturday morning to watch the Chicago River turn green. Yes, yes, it’s always green, but now it will be an attractive shade of green. The dye actually enters the river orange, making the process extra Irish. A small flotilla of plumbers will dump enough dye to change the color of the water for quite a distance. This started in 1961, allegedly as a way to detect a scofflaw dumping waste into the river in violation of new anti-pollution laws. The city doesn’t fund it, and this year the dyeing of the river is sponsored by WXRT and Miller Light. Plumbers Union Local 130, who runs the event, also sells T-shirts to help defray costs.

Here’s a photo from Wikipedia commons, showing the river from the Riverwalk.