At the end of last month I got to take a quick business trip to Chicago. The highlight was getting to spend my lunch break walking along the Chicago River, checking out its movable bridges. You’ve heard of Chicago-style pizza; well, there are Chicago-style movable bridges too. Chicago has thirty-six movable bridges, more than any other city in the world. Almost all are bascule bridges, some examples of which are shown on this page. New York City, by contrast, has four different types of movable bridges—bascule, vertical lift, swing, and retractile.
Another difference between New York and Chicago bridges is that Chicago’s bridges only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and only during the spring and fall, whereas New York’s bridges can be operated 24/7.
Here’s an empty bridge operator’s tower.
There was very little traffic on the river when I was there, but I did see one of Shoreline Sightseeing’s water taxis (not pictured), and the William C, one of Illinois Marine Towing’s boats. And here’s a link to a time-lapse video from Chicago Water Taxi that shows a round-trip voyage on the river.
Puffin is short enough to pass under all of Chicago’s bridges without waiting for them to open, and the bridges are so close together that passing under them all is probably only a one- or two-day event. Now all we need to do is get Puffin to Lake Michigan! (Karen and I were able to fix the steering problem; now it’s just a matter of fixing our schedules so we have time to use the boat.)
Finally, here’s a gratuitous picture of the Sears Tower, the tallest building in North America and the third tallest in the world.