Saturday Bridge Lift
Chicago is known for the sound of the electric blues, but long before Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Little Walter, and all the others plugged in, Chicago was an industrial center, home to foundries, transportation hubs, and animals headed to slaughter through chutes. In the words of Carl Sandburg, the City of Broad Shoulders. Emblematic of those shoulders are 27 or so bridges that tie one side of the Chicago River with the other. Consistent with the Midwest's prairie landscape, the bridges are flat and low to the river, unlike the massive suspension bridges that span New York City's East and Hudson Rivers.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays in the Spring, 27 bridges open over a three or four-hour period to let the sail boats head to Lake Michigan for the summer sailing season. The process is reversed toward the end of fall. It is on those days that we hear the sort of sounds that predate Muddy, Willie, and Little Walter: As each bridge tries to rise, the guttural creaks, groans, and screeches of steel resisting gravity and rubbing against surfaces can be heard, but the machines and fibered cables always win out, even if a welder must occasionally intervene. It can take several minutes from the first bowed sound (ala John Cale) before the first crack between the two expanses is visible, but once that crack is visible, the seperation happens quickly.
Today, with temperatures closing in on 80 degrees, the Chicago Riverwalk was lined with people, making it nearly impossible for runners and bicyclists to proceed down the path that begins its journey at the river's bend just north of Lake Street and continues to Lake Michigan. The photogs were out in force. I saw tripods, a Hasselblad 501cw, Leicas, and iPhones working overtime. The weather was not entirely cooperative, with white ill-defined bands of clouds hovering above, but occasionally the sun cut through, which produced a colorful glow.
And special thanks to my good friend, the evil Linda Laarberg, who conversed with me and all the surrounding sounds while I made these photographs. It had been too long since we last talked.
Sorolla Does the Chicago River: The Merchandise Mart
The Power to the El is Cut, Then the Lake Street Bridge Opens
The Just Completed Portion of the River Walk and the Orleans Street Bridge
A Crack to the Sky
Just Recovered Liz, Who Had Been Left Behind
Life is Good in the Shadow of Trump
I'm Waiting for the Bridge Tender
A Slight Delay in Getting to the Billy Goat Tavern
Rules of the River
A Massive Traffic Jam Builds on Eight Lanes of Lake Shore Drive As Venture On Heads Through Under the Last Obstacle
"Rump Tower" Shortly After the Boats Have Cleared the Last Obstacle: Some Days the Light Offers Miracles
Gone Fishing on Ogden Slip