The Deep Cut

Saturday, July 15, 1871

The ringing of the bell in the cupola of the Court House proclaims that the gates have been opened and that the putrid waters of the South Branch of the Chicago River will now, it is hoped, flow south into the newly deepened Illinois and Michigan Canal, rather than north and east into Lake Michigan, the source of the city's drinking water.  Another aim of the so-called "deep cut” is to increase traffic on (and revenue from) the canal, helping offset the cost of the project.  On July 25 1,500 people will attend the ceremonies by the Main Branch of the river at State Street that mark the completion of the deep cut.  The project will prove of limited effectiveness, however, and the river will remain a serious hazard until the construction of the Sanitary and Ship Canal in the last decade of the century.