So I had a party to attend at a co-workers house up on the northwest side last night. Being that I live on the river, and the fact that my co-worker lives real close to the river as well, I decided that kayaking the 11 miles up to her house made the most sense. So I set off around noon for a 5 and a half hour adventure paddling upstream along the Chicago river from downtown all the way up to kostner/foster. Most people think of the Chicago river exclusively in terms of the magnificent skyscraper canyons of downtown, but the river is a whole lot more than just that, with very interesting industrial, residential and eventually even natural feels as it progresses north through the city. The purpose of this tour is to expose some of the lesser seen parts of the river, but of course I have to include some obligatory shots of the canyons of downtown.
in case you missed, here is a link to the north branch thread:
1. Unloading my gear at the put-in by LSD
2. Pulling all the kayak parts out of the backpack
3. The frame goes together
4. What a fantastic put-in
7. Another angle
8. A nice collection of classics
10. River bridges
11. River skyscrapers
12. Large and in charge
13. Now we reach wolf point, the nexus of the 3 chicago river branches. the south branch veers off to the left, but we’re curving around the bend to the right to head up the north branch
14. Turning around and looking back down the main branch
15. The south branch canyon. We’ll revisit it on another tour
16. The kinzie street railroad bridge. This bridge is so low to the water that it is always kept in the open position.
17. The operator’s house
18. Sarah palin’s bridge to nowhere?
19. Rickety pier connecting bridge protection pilings
20. Harry weese’s funky little river cottages
21. The atrocious east bank club with the better than average park kingbury condo tower in the background
22. Riverfront townhouse with a below average condo tower
23. The cool little cottage like bridge house for the grand avenue bridge
24. Old warehouse converted to condos
25. The large printing press building for the Chicago tribune is dead ahead. It marks the point where the river starts to feel less “skyscrapery” and more industrial.
26. More newish condos
27. These two make quite a lovely pair
28. Newish riverfront park with yet more condo towers
29. The Chicago avbenue bridge up ahead
30. The magnificent old montgomery wards warehouse. It’s been turned into a massive mixed-use facility
31. Looking back at wards
32. Now we’re at goose island where the north branch starts to show its industrial heritage. We’re now entering a part of the river that you won’t see on most of the architectural river tour boats.
35. A handsome old warehouse building since converted to offices.
36. Turning around we are treated to a nice skyline perspective
37. Summer is officially over
38. Approaching division street bridge
39. Mighty sears always watching over his city
40. More industrial structures
41. The new cable stayed north avenue bridge. The river gets really wide at this point to act as a turning basin for the large barges that still navigate this narrow river.
42. A cool old defunct railroad bridge
43. Brand new SoNo tower. He looks lonely. He needs some friends.
44. Industry is cool
45. It’s really friggin cool
46. Turning around, there’s trump tower in the distance
47. Mountains of scrap metal stacked up along the river bank
48. The courtland street bridge is so cute. It’s like a little shrunk down version of it’s bigger brothers downtown.
49. A skyline of smokestacks
50. The union pacific north line railroad bridge. I wanted to catch a picture of a metra train crossing it, but they only run every 2 hours on weekends, and I still had 6 more miles to paddle
51. A general scene in this section of the river
52. The fullerton avenue bridge. This used to be the first non-movable bridge on the north branch, meaning that north of here was off limits to taller commercial vessels and sailboats, but the new cable stayed bridge back at north avenue is now the first non-movable bridge on the north branch
53. The nice red arches of the damen bridge
54. The river opens up real wide again just south of the diversy bridge
55. These really old Chicago public housing projects occupy what is now prime riverfront property.
56. Newish condo development north of diversy
57. General river scene. It’s beginning to look a bit more natural with tree lined banks instead of 10 foot high steel revetment walls.
58. New condos under construction at Belmont
59. A nice townhouse development with a huge pier. Why aren’t the people who live here out paddling? It makes no sense.
60. An electrical substation just south of Addison
61. The Addison bridge
62. This was a cool old shipwreck on the river bank north of Addison that caught my eye. I wish I had caught a close up of the engine. It was old, OLD school. I have no idea how long this thing has been rotting away here.
63. Gordon tech high school just north of Addison
64. Nice fall colors starting to come through
65. Good to know. I’ll keep it under advisement
66. But I guess the water ain’t too polluted for the ducks
67. Now the river takes on a decidedly residential feel with city house lots backing right up onto the river banks with docks for recreational boats
68. More homes backing up to the river.
69. This looks like a perfect deck for millertime
70. The bungalow belt
71. The builder of this home had the good sense to allow it to face the river
72. Ohhh, there’s even a 2-flat or two in the mix here and there. Cool.
73. A brown line el train crosses the river
74. The Lawrence avenue aerator. From what I understand this thing aerates the water in the river so all of our little aqua friends can breathe. There are danger signs to stay away because apparently when it’s on the aerated water it puts out is so unbouyant that boats can sink like a rock in it.
75. The north branch dam and waterfall. The waterway to the right is the north shore channel which eventually ends up in Wilmette by the bahai temple. But I’m not going the way, I’m heading up the north branch so I have to portage around the dam for the final two miles of my paddle
76. Upriver of the dam, the river is decidedly smaller, shallower, cleaner, and much faster running. I wish I had more pics of this stretch, but the speed of the water that I was paddling against was so quick that I did not have any time to snap shots, I did get a couple though. This stretch of the river was also littered with small shallow rocky rapids that I could not get through, so there was A LOT of getting out of the boat and dragging it through the water. This stretch of the river was cool to see, but I can’t say that I would recommend it for paddling, it’s just too shallow with to many unavigable rapids.
77. Strange architecture cantilevered over the river just west of the kedzie bridge.
78. More unusual architecture. I don’t know what complex these buildings are a part of, but they were cool to see from the vanatage point of a river explorer who just happened upon them out of the blue.
79. Von stueben high school
80. And now entering into cook county forest preserve land, the last stretch of my paddle looked mostly like this.
Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed going on my little river adventure with me. Of course, when I finally got to my co-worker’s party with my kayak, every one pretty much came to the conclusion that I’m nuts, but i'm not crazy, i just really, REALLY like kayaking.