University of Chicago Library links

Detail of feature image from web exhibit collection.

Under Your Feet, Chicago's Water,
Freight, Subway and Storm Tunnels

Highlights from the Library's Collections

Exhibition on view from February 14, 2006 to March 31, 2006
The John Crerar Library

Under Your Feet, Chicago's Water, Freight, Subway and Storm Tunnels

Below the surface of downtown Chicago is a fascinating and complex underground maze of tunnels. Chicago has been able to use these tunnels to solve various infrastructure problems, thanks to an easily excavated layer of blue clay underlying the city.Dug at different depths and stretching for miles, they were designed to move water, freight and people throughout the city. Under Your Feet explores the system—from the first water tunnels completed in 1867, to the now defunct freight tunnels of the early 1900's, to the subway system we use today, to the Deep Tunnel project and storm tunnels of the future.

sketch of people in subway 1898

Image from article: "Plans Underground Roads to Cure the Transit Evil", From: Chicago Daily; Jan 16, 1898, pg.38.