You Can Tour Chicagoland’s Largest Infrastructure Project

People love taking tours of places that few can go.  And people love seeing the inner working of Chicago’s built environment.  Those are two reasons that the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s annual Open House Chicago is such a big hit.

If you’re the sort of person who looks forward to rare tours of constructed spaces, then the  Metropolitan Water Reclamation District has an opportunity for you.

For a few weekends, the MWRD is offering tours of a portion of TARP — the massive water shunting and storage project that is trying to keep Chicagoland from returning to its pre-1800’s state as a soggy marsh.

Phase one of the McCook Reservoir (Courtesy of MWRD)

Phase one of the McCook Reservoir (Courtesy of MWRD)

The specific sections of TARP you’ll tour are the new Mainstream Pumping Station and the McCook Reservoir, which is still under construction.  That means sensible shoes, and no shorts.

McCook is the last of three reservoirs designed to hold rainwater during storms, keeping it out of your basement and Honda until it can be safely cleaned and pumped into the Sanitary and Ship Canal.  When complete, McCook will be able to hold 10 billion gallons of water, and help prevent $143 million in flood damage each year.

The last time the MWRD gave tours it was two years ago, of the Thornton Composite Reservoir in South Holland.  Those slots filled up fast.  To reserve your place in this year’s tours, phone 312-751-6632, or e-mail    Tours start at the Mainstream Pumping Station at 6100 River Road, in southwest suburban Hodgkins.

Tour dates are:

  • Sunday, August 6
  • Sunday, August 27
  • Sunday, September 17
  • Sunday, September 24
  • Sunday, October 1
  • Sunday, October 15

Location: 6100 River Road, Hodgkins

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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