South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago river.
This view looks north from Thirty-fifth street. The South Fork was the dirtiest branch of the Chicago river. According to Kenan Heise and Mark Frazel, "...this waterway percolated, fermented and stank. When a Tribune reporter tried to row across in 1915, a six foot bubble arose, enveloping the boat. Later "Dutchess of Bubbly Creek" Mary McDowell succeeded in rowing across the creek, She proved it navigable and, therefore, eligible for federal clean-up funds."* Neither the first reversal of the Chicago river in 1871, nor the permanent reversal of the Chicago river in 1900 did much for the South Fork.

The South Fork is neither the great shipping lane nor the dumping ground it once was. Plenty of vacant land exists in this area that was once a slough. In the 1980s, proposals were made for parkland to be added along the banks of the South Fork, as Bridgeport has one of the lowest park acreage totals in the city. The cement plant in the distance is located in the vicinity of the former Glue Works. The building on the right is the Albert Pick building.


* In: Kenan Heise and Mark Frazel. Hands on Chicago: Getting hold of the city (Chicago: Bonus Books, 1987), p. 27. Mary McDowell is most famed for her community service work in New City (or "Back of the Yards").

[Return]