Slice of Life: Chicago River Barrier

 Centennial Fountain

Tour boats and pleasure craft wait for Centennial Fountain at the foot of North McClurg Court to turn off so they can pass without sprinkling their passengers.  The fountain designed by Lohan Associates shoots an arc of water across the Chicago River for ten minutes each hour.

It was erected to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.  The MWRD was founded as the Sanitary District of Chicago, and is best known for saving Lake Michigan from the city’s pollution by reversing the flow of the Chicago River and flushing the city’s waste into the Mississippi River.

Lately, the MWRD is known for its “Deep Tunnel” project which stores stormwater runoff in a massive series of underground tunnels and reservoirs until it can be treated and disposed of properly.

The MWRD will help you do something similar on a small scale at your own home by selling you rain collection barrels for $58 each, which is about half of what it would cost to get one from Home Depot

[August 6, 2012: The text above has been amended to reflect current pricing thanks to Allison at the MWRD.]

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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