National Geographic : 1919 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE A friendly suit, which is still pending, was brought in the Federal courts to determine the relative powers of the State, the city, and the Federal Govern ment in the premises. Upon its outcome hinges the question of whether or not Chicago can send enough Lake Michigan water down the Mississippi River to pro tect the lake from pollution. Through the Sanitary District, which now comprises a territory of 358 square miles, covering the region from the town of Wilmette to the Indiana line, the city is both a real-estate operator and the owner of a power plant. Nine great aluminum wires carry 42,000 horsepower cityward from the hydro-electric plant above Joliet. They supply one county, twelve municipalities, and many private concerns, besides furnishing the city it self with power for pumping water out of the lake into the city mains and the canal, and for lighting the fourteen thou sand arc lights used in the municipal system. "SIC SEMPER TYPHOID !" The result of the opening of the drain age canal was phenomenal. Typhoid, which had reached a degree of prevalence that was truly alarming, began to sub side immediately, and Chicago, but lately the most unhealthful principal city in America, soon was cutting down its death rate faster than any similar community anywhere. No man who knows the his tory of the conquest of water-borne dis ease by the building of this canal can fail to appreciate the triumph of the sani tarians. They said they would cut the typhoid rate in half, but they actually sliced off more than o9per cent of it! Like all great world cities, Chicago has many problems still unsolved. Most seri ous of these is the urban transportation situation. With more passengers to carry than all of the steam railroads of the United States together, and with the great bulk of the cars that carry them entering the narrow confines of the constricted business district, it was inevitable that a heroic revampment of conditions would be needed. Some very striking steps of coop eration between the various companies operating the urban transportation lines have been taken in the past. These com panies were urged to believe that uni versal transfers would redound to their respective advantage. Very dubious on the subject, yet imbued with the general spirit of cooperation for the city's wel fare, they agreed to try it, merging all of the surface lines, for purposes of op eration, into one system and all of the elevated lines into another. TRANSPORTATION AND WATER PROBLEMS The result was greater profits than ever before, and the experiment did much to remedy the situation. But much water of development passes under the bridge of progress in Chicago with the lapse of a few years, and now the city is where nothing but a radical extension of both elevated and surface lines, with subways added, and universal transfers established between elevated, surface, and subway lines, will suffice. A plan was prepared by a commission representing the city, and accepted by the transportation interests, providing for the requisite extensions, and for the oper ation of all the lines under a board of trustees appointed by the people, with a definite guarantee to all stockholders of a fair income. Every commercial and pro gressive organization in the city was be hind the plan, but somehow it failed of a majority in the November referendum. It is quite plain, however, that Chicago must soon face the transportation prob lem that handling an overwhelming popu lation involves. The water situation also presents some thing of a problem. In a recent number of the GEOGRAPHIC (see "New York The Metropolis of Mankind," July, 1918) it was shown that Gotham's great aque duct system carries enough water to slake the thirst of the whole world. Chicago, with half as many people, uses more water than New York. The reason for this, of course, is that Chicago is the home of heavy manufactures and New York of light, the former demanding much more water than the latter. The per capita use in Chicago is two and a half times that in New York. The combined water and sewer mains.