Navy Pier might be the Midwest's number one tourist destination - don't ask me why - but have you noticed all the other stuff around it? Like the lighthouse and the giant filtration plant? I was stuck northbound on Lakeshore, and I started noticing all the parks and buildings way out there. Here's a little bit of what I found out:
The entire peninsula around Navy Pier is man-made, created when the city filled in the land between 1914 to 1916. Almost immediately after it was built, it became a naval training site during World War I. Navy Pier has had quite the history; click here to read more.
The harbor around Navy Pier is called Chicago Harbor. Construction began in 1833 with the construction of what is now known as Navy Pier and the underwater excavation to create a channel nearby. Those wall-like structures all around the area, called breakwaters, were built between 1874 and 1923 to protect the harbor from the water.
The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, also called the Chicago Breakwater Light, is located at the northern end of the breakwater. It was built in 1893 for the World's Columbian Exposition and was originally located at the mouth of the Chicago River. It was relocated to its present site in 1919 after the breakwater was renovated. A keeper actually lived in the lighthouse until it was automated in 1979. Today, the Coast Guard uses it, but it's closed to the public.
The Jardine Water Purification Plant is that giant thing to the north of Navy Pier. It's the largest capacity water filtration plant in the world, and it sends nearly one billion gallons of water per day to Chicagoans in the north and central parts of the city.
You might find it strange the Ohio Street Beach is the only beach that faces north instead of east. That's because it formed on its own in a by created by the purification plant. I always thought the people swimming from Ohio Street Beach to Oak Street Beach were nuts, but apparently you can swim about a half mile to the Oak Street curve without being more that a few feet from the seawall and shallow water. (I still think they're crazy. Lake Michigan is cold!)
There are two parks located around Chicago Harbor: Milton Olive Park and Jane Addams Memorial Park. Jane Addams Memorial Park has been there since the pier was built, and it was named for Jane Addams in 1996. Milton Olive Park opened in 1968, named after the first African American recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. The park contains a monument to Olive.
Filed under: Did You Know, Chicago?
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