North Shore Channel
3207-3227 W Devon Ave Chicago, IL 60659
Following a topographical depression at the western edge of West Ridge, the North Shore Sanitary Canal was constructed between 1907 and 1910 in order to flush waste and storm water from the Chicago’s North Shore suburbs away from Lake Michigan. The canal is part of the network of engineering marvels that reversed the flow of the Chicago River and directed much of Chicago’s waste water south towards the Mississippi River and St. Louis, keeping the Lake Michigan shoreline free of pollution and allowing Chicago to draw safe drinking water from the lake.
The North Shore Channel was initially flushed by pumping lake water into the channel at the northern point in Wilmette. In the 1920s a treatment plant was built at Howard Street to treat the wastewater discharged into the canal. Today, the discharge water from the Howard Street station provides the flow of water south in the channel.
The North Shore Channel effectively forms the west edge of the West Ridge neighborhood and can be viewed from the Devon Avenue bridge over the channel just past Thillens Stadium. The narrow riparian corridor along the channel is primarily parkland, with a bicycle path on the west side. The channel waters are used for crew team practice from local high schools and recreational kayking and canoeing. The channel also provides a habitat for herons, turtles and a number of other water-loving and acquatic species.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Skokie Historical Society, 1985.032.007
Text by Cynthia Anderson