Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chicago- discovery

The recorded history of the city of Chicago begins in the 1600’s when the city was called Chigagou, which means “wild-garlic place”. Native American people generally avoided settling in the swampy, boggy and muddy areas that covered the land as much as twenty miles inland from the Lake of the Illinois (present day Lake Michigan). In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, two Frenchmen, passed through Chigagou, and met with the local Illinois Indians. Marquette and Joliet, though not the first white men to see Chigagou, were the first to map the territory. They had hoped to find a river connecting the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, but instead found a swampy area which required a five to ten mile portage between a portion of the Des Plaines River and what would become known as the Chicago River. The reason that only one river (the Chicago) flowed into Lake Michigan dates back to glacial times when most of the metropolitan area was submerged beneath Lake Chicago. The beaches and sand dunes associated with this lake left ridges that kept water from flowing east into the lake. Joliet realized in the 1670’s that if a canal could be built through the portage, the city could become the great city of the Midwest. Though he never saw his dream realized, Joliet’s vision was finally completed in 1848. The Illinois and Michigan canal was an all water route, between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, that finally connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. Coinciding with the increases in trade brought on by the construction and completion of the canal, improvements were needed along the lakefront to allow ships to call on Chicago as a port city. The original shoreline of Chicago is unrecognizable today under the skyscrapers, museums and parks that have been constructed on the 5.5 square miles of landfill created since the 1800’s (see Figure, Chrzastowski,1998). Man-made alterations included new piers, beaches, peninsulas, and even changing the course and flow direction of the Chicago River.

zreference: Shoreline process in Chicago


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