Chicago turns “the Stinky” into a watery urban playground

People canoeing in the Chicago River.

The evolution of the Chicago River from “the Stinky,” as it was once called, to the city’s second watery playground, has the makings of a rags-to-riches story. The river, like those in most American metropolises, long served as an industrial transport system. At the turn of the last century, it was re-engineered to flow backwards to prevent bacteria and pollutants from flowing into Lake Michigan. Margaret Frisbie, executive director of the environmental nonprofit Friends of the Chicago River, says it became “a back alleyway filled with sewage and trash.”

In the heat of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, even the flames, perhaps wary of its murky waters, jumped the river twice.

But this weekend, a striking new boathouse opens on the river’s banks. Designed by noted Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, the Clark Park Boathouse will help put more kayakers and canoers on the river that was paddled by early European explorers such as Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette.

Read the full story here.


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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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