Monday, June 5, 2017

The LaSalle Street Tunnel under the Chicago River.

The LaSalle Street Tunnel was Chicago’s second tunnel under the Chicago River. It was started November 3, 1869, and completed July 4, 1871, just a few months before the Great Chicago Fire.
LaSalle Street Tunnel (colorized)
The tunnel was designed by William Bryson who was the resident engineer for the Washington Street Tunnel. It was 1,890 feet long, from Randolph Street north to Hubbard Street (then Michigan), and cost $566,000. 

This tunnel, along with the Washington Tunnel, were valuable escape routes during the fire of 1871, which quickly consumed the wooden bridges over the Chicago river.


Originally built for pedestrian and horse-drawn traffic, on March 23, 1888 the North Chicago Street Railroad leased the tunnel, and it was used for cable car service until October 21, 1906.

The reversing of the Chicago River exposed the tunnel in 1900 and a wider, deeper replacement was built in a drydock on Goose Island from steel plate.

When the tunnel closed to cable cars in 1906 the replacement was lowered into a trench in the riverbed. It opened to electric streetcar service in July 21, 1912.
LaSalle Street Tunnel, 1900
The LaSalle Street tunnel was in use until November 27, 1939, when it was closed during the construction of the Milwaukee-Lake-Dearborn-Congress subway, the Lake & LaSalle (now Clark & Lake) station of which intersected the tunnel’s south ramp under Lake Street. By 1950 the south approach had been covered, the tunnel and the north approach were filled and covered by 1953.

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