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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2008, 10:57 PM
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Steely Dan Steely Dan is offline
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Cool Urban kayaking - the Chicago River: north branch

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:
http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=160007



map







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



5. Aqua



6. Trump



7. Another angle



8. A nice collection of classics



9. Home



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.



33. Industry



34. Ditto



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.

Last edited by Steely Dan; Oct 29, 2008 at 4:00 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2008, 11:06 PM
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Man...that looks like fun there. No restrictions?
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  #3  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2008, 11:24 PM
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Was it hard to paddle upstream? Great photos. It would freak me out to be in such a tiny little kayak right next to huge barges and other boats.
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Old Posted Oct 19, 2008, 11:24 PM
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Wow - you've got some stamina!
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  #5  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2008, 11:45 PM
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Awesome, I used to do this with my father in our inflatable 12 foot dinghy. It was awesome, we never actually made it to chicago, but we did paddle the Des Planes, and the north branch of the Chicago River where the temple is located. Awesome sport, we used to take our little cooler with some drinks and a couple sandwiches, a battery operated radio, and sometimes, fishing gear. Awesome, we even had the courage one day to head into Lake Michigan, in Lake Forest, my father was actually very SCARED, but i decided to go snorkling. Awesome experiance let me tell you!!! good job, maybe in the near future, (not near, winter is about to be here) we can get together, and paddle the Chicago River, im hoping to buy a inflatable canoe or kayak.
Congratulations!!!!!!
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  #6  
Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Top Of The Park View Post
No restrictions?
nope.




Quote:
Originally Posted by PA Pride View Post
Was it hard to paddle upstream? Great photos. It would freak me out to be in such a tiny little kayak right next to huge barges and other boats.
for most of my journey, the river is really lazy with a very slow current that was easy to paddle against, but once i got north of the dam for the last 2 miles, it was pretty hellish. i won't be paddling that particular section of the river again. as for the bigger boats, you just gotta stay out of their way and huig the river walls. and once i was north of chicago avenue, i pretty much had the whole river to myself anyway.





Quote:
Originally Posted by JMO_0121 View Post
good job, maybe in the near future, (not near, winter is about to be here) we can get together, and paddle the Chicago River
sounds good to me. since getting this folding kayak back in august, i've been on the river pretty much every weekend, so i'm always up for a river paddle.






Quote:
Originally Posted by JMO_0121 View Post
im hoping to buy a inflatable canoe or kayak.
inflatables are cool, but i would highly recommend a folding kayak like mine because they actually perform more like a hardshell kayak than inflatables. but they are more expensive, so cost is a factor. either way, you can't really lose. kayaking just plain kicks ass.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
.....
20. Harry weese’s funky little river cottages



53. The nice red arches of the damen bridge
.....
Two of my favorite things on the river!
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 1:17 AM
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Incredible pictures Steely, thanks for the tour and education!
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 1:23 AM
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hooray for the urban kayak phenomenon! second time I've seen kayak-perspective urban photos on here... Chicago is pretty neat in that it has a rather significant yet somewhat narrow downtown river with skyscrapers on both sides creating a river canyon effect
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 1:37 AM
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Wow, 11 miles. I did the Sunset architecture tour through kayak chicago this past spring. I think that was around 5 miles... I was sore for a week.

You got some great pictures. The perspective that low in the water is amazing. I had wanted to bring a camera when I went, but was convinced I would end up in the drink.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 1:37 AM
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Now THAT'S a tour!
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 1:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
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


Nice pictures though.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 2:01 AM
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Fantastic tour, looks like a blast!
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 2:02 AM
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Excellent pictures! After being in CHicago last month, and really enjoying the river tour that my friends and I went on, it is nice to see what lines the river in places that we didn't go and/or I've never been to. Goose Island seemed insteresting when I looked at it on a map (we were considering going to the Goose Island Brewery while there), and it was nice to see the river scenes from there.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 2:02 AM
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Very cool Steely.

I just got off a charter, and we went up the north branch all the way to Diversey. I might throw and image in here of it if that's cool.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 2:06 AM
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thanks for all that trouble. great tour

yuck to the no human body contact
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  #17  
Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 2:13 AM
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you are a trip

cool perspective.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 2:18 AM
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Have always wanted to see the river north! Thanks for taking such great photos of it!
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 2:54 AM
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Holy crap Dan. I thought I was crazy for riding my bike from Palatine to downtown. An 11 mile paddle in a kayak?
But those are the experiences to remember. Nice photos, thanks.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2008, 3:03 AM
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Meh, if you paddle the Calumet, then I'll be impressed.

Very cool Steely. If I might hijack your thread for a second... that round building you photographed (it's at North Park University). I used to go past there and think, "Oh, strange little Goldberg rip-off building." But then, I found a reference to the fact that Goldberg actually had done some work for North Park... not sure if it was built. So, the question is, could this acutally be the Goldberg or some bastardized version of it?

I never had a chance to look into it further. If anyone wants to do some digging or knows the answer, please PM me or let me know you replied here!
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