Chicago Landmarks

Site of the Origins of the I&M Canal

Origin Site Across the River, 1986, photo by CCL     Address: 2800 block of South Ashland Avenue, along the south fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River
Year Built: South channel excavated 1836-38; north channel 1845-48
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: May 9, 1996

1890s Sketch of Canal Boat in Lock This site represents the city's most important, remaining element of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal. This manmade waterway, which was built to connect the Illinois River with Lake Michigan, was crucial in establishing Chicago as the nation's central transportation hub. Construction of the Stevenson Expressway in the 1950s destroyed most of the canal inside the city limits, but this site encompasses several important features, including: the mouth of the original canal, the below-grade foundations of the 1840s-era pumping station, and the street approach of the former bridge to the "Bridgeport" community, which developed at the time of the canal. This is also the city's prime site in the I&M Canal Heritage Corridor, a national park.