The City of Chicago has always relied on the waters of Lake Michigan as its supply of drinking water. As Chicago continued to grow, both in population and industrialization, the Chicago River was the endpoint of all city sewers, which emptied into the lake. This led to many widespread disease outbreaks among the population.
In 1871, the flow of the Chicago River was reversed. This meant that the river would no longer empty into the lake. This worked for a short time; however, it was prone to failure. Each time this happened, another epidemic would strike Chicago and lead to more deaths.
A new canal was completed and put into use in January of 1900. This system was engineered better, but was still prone to occasional flooding due to higher than usual lake levels or heavy rain. Neighboring states complained about the diversion of lake water. In 1934, the Chicago Sanitary District with the Army Corps of Engineers implemented a lock system to comply with the 1930 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to decrease the amount of water diverted. This lighthouse helps guide vessels into the lock.
Directions: Located at the end of the south guidewall in Chicago's Harbor. You can get a pretty good view of the lighthouse from Navy Pier along Chicago's waterfront or from one of the many harbor cruises that run daily. I am not sure whether the pier is opening for walking. Also look for the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse located out on the breakwall in the harbor.
Access: The tower is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. Grounds and tower closed.View more Chicago Harbor Southeast Guidewall Lighthouse pictures