Chicago Sewers Digital Collection
CPL's Digital Collections document life in Chicago through archival images, documents and artifacts.
The sewer systems and passageways that lie beneath our feet are critical to the health and well being of the city. Offering a rare look at the “underbelly” of Chicago, this collection features historical construction photographs of sewers and tunnels.
In 1855, Boston engineer Ellis S. Chesbrough was invited to Chicago to design the first comprehensive system of underground sewers in the United States. His work lifted the city to make room for the new sewers which became the most extensive in the world. In the more than 150 years since, Chicago’s Department of Water Management continues to service and maintain this underground system.
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Acknowledgment of Harmful Materials
Chicago Public Library collects images, documents and other archival materials from different communities and time periods to preserve and make available the cultural and historical record. As historical objects, some of these materials contain harmful or disturbing content. CPL presents these artifacts as an unfiltered social record and does not endorse the views expressed therein.
Related CPL Collections
- Chicago Sewers Collection: The complete list of photographs, glass plate slides and documents, rich with geographic and technical details.