National Geographic : 1953 Dec
The National Geographic Magazine stations which pump it into the water mains. Until 1900 the Chicago River emptied into Lake Michigan, polluting the water with sew age. Typhoid fever caused hundreds of deaths. The city solved the problem by making the offending river run backward. To reverse the flow, engineers dug the south branch of the stream deeper than its mouth and connected that branch by a still deeper canal with the Des Plaines River, forming the Illinois Water way to the Mississippi (see inset on supple ment map). Although Chicago is an inland city, it han dles more water-borne traffic than the Pan ama Canal. Dutch, Swedish, and Norwegian steamship lines connect the city with European and North African ports during the season of navigation on the Great Lakes (page 794). Barges ply from here to New Orleans and other river cities. Annually lake and river cargo totals 46,000,000 tons. A movement is now afoot to widen the Calumet Sag Channel and thus quadruple the barge traffic through that waterway. In 1848 the old Illinois and Michigan Canal gave Chicago its start in water shipping (page 802). If the Calumet Sag project goes through, cheap river transportation may launch another boom. Hub of Rail, Highway, and Air Traffic Truly, geography has built Chicago. Rail roads, starting here with the old Galena and Chicago Union line in 1848, have made the city the busiest rail center in the world. To day it is served by 20 major lines operating almost half the total mileage in the country. It handles more freight traffic than New York and St. Louis combined, and its passenger train arrivals and departures, including subur ban services, average 1,770 a day. As in pioneer times, roads converge at Chi cago. Illinois has one of the finest and most extensive systems of paved highways ever con structed. Some 500 big trucking companies, besides hundreds of lesser truck fleets, operate in and out of Chicago. Following the pattern of roads, waterways, and railroads has come air traffic. Eleven major airlines, three feeder passenger lines, three air freight and express lines, besides numerous nonscheduled carriers, serve the city. At Midway, busiest airport in the United States, 1,000 scheduled airline planes land or take off daily. Passenger arrivals and de partures in 1953 totaled nearly 10,000,000. Inland from the sumptuous water front Chi cago has unsightly districts which have become more dilapidated and disreputable through the years. Many of these slums have been cleared, and others are in the clean-up process. In objectionable neighborhoods the city con demns the land, moves residents to municipal or Federal housing projects outside crowded areas, and razes ramshackle buildings. The property thus cleared at public expense is sold cheap to private investors who build on it approved industrial plants or apartment groups. Taxes on the improved property re imburse the city for the cost of slum clearance. I rode through one South Side district, not far from the University of Chicago, where an insurance company was replacing miserable hovels with handsome apartment houses sur rounded by lawns and trees. To cope with the downtown parking prob lem, the city is building a huge garage beneath a long stretch of Michigan Avenue. Out of Slums, a Great Medical Center A striking example of splendor replacing squalor is the West Side Medical Center going up in an area of tenements and junk yards. It already represents an outlay of $157,000,000. Completed, it will cost twice that amount. It is one of the greatest concentrations of medical and related institutions anywhere. Within its borders are the University of Il linois College of Medicine, Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine, the Cook County Graduate School of Medicine, and Chicago Medical School. In addition, the University of' Illinois conducts a College of Dentistry and a College of Pharmacy, and Loyola a dental school. There are five hospitals, two schools of nursing, and a tuberculosis sanitarium. Research, which goes on constantly, has performed miracles. Among the most striking is the research done on the use and applica tion of the B. C. G. (bacillus of Calmette and Guerin) vaccine for tuberculosis. In a concrete-and-lead-walled basement room the 24,000,000-volt betatron invented at the University of Illinois is being used to treat inoperable cancer by the concentration of penetrating X-rays of high energy upon diseased areas. Chicago claims an imposing list of "great ests" and "firsts," leading all other cities in the Nation in output of meat and packing house by-products,* telephone equipment, radios and television sets, railroad equipment, and a score of other products (p. 797). It fashioned America's first steel-frame sky scraper, its first Pullman car, its first real refrigerator car, its first third-rail system for electric railways, and its first successful reap ing machine. At the University of Chicago the first atomic chain reaction, precursor of the atomic bomb, was produced in 1942. World's largest market for grain futures is * See "America's 'Meat on the Hoof,' " by William H. Nicholas, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Jan uary, 1952.