Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicago's Water Street

Water Street was the produce hub of Chicago. In the 1800s, it was the main business street, running parallel to the Chicago River. In earlier years, it was the site of an Indian trading post. However in 1917, Charles Wacker, Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission, proposed changing Water Street into a "fine highway of tremendous economic value to the City of Chicago." South Water and River Streets would be double-decker streets from Michigan Avenue to Market Street, with the upper level reserved for light traffic. The Plan called for the market to be moved to another location outside the loop to reduce loop traffic by 13,814 vehicle trips per day. (Source: Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year-Book, 1918.)

Water Street is now known as Wacker Drive (fancy that!) The market was moved to an 8-block area bounded by Racine Avenue, Morgan Street, 14th Street and Baltimore and Ohio. In 2003, the "new market" was turned into apartments, known as the University Commons.

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