University of Limerick
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The resilient urban city: a new image of the city

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posted on 2015-11-14, 15:44 authored by Stephen Bourke
For most the heart of the city of Chicago is the loop district, the central business district where by all the different city transit lines meet in a loop fifteen foot above one’s head. For me it is a place much more detached from, yet completely surrounded by the city, the confluence, the point at which the three branches of the river meet. With my back against the ten to fifteen foot corrugated steel river wall, bobbing gently in my kayak, the essence of an extraordinarily vibrant city can be felt. From here, the three branches of the river meet like an upside down letter Y placed out in front of you and flattened. Behind me I can hear the great Metra on its final approach into the city’s ‘Union Station’ as it completes its journey from the far outer reaches of the greater Chicago area. On my right, the bare aluminium skin of the red-line, transit train is glistening in the sun as it crosses the ‘Lake Street Bridge’ over the southern branch of the river. From that bridge panning left toward the direction of the bow of my kayak is the main stem of this great river. Throughout the day a parade of endless water taxis, tour boats and recreational boats, head towards this confluence of river branches and either go south, under ‘Lake Street’ bridge to my right, or north towards my left under what Chicagoans would call ‘Viagra’ bridge, the name being a touch of humour towards its current state in a permanent upright position. Its monumental state is paying tribute toward the industrial age of Chicago where the train was of vital importance to its prosperity, the bridge being the last physical piece of evidence of a past infrastructure. All of this added to the sound of cars in rush hour traffic is a vibrancy of transport infrastructure any city would thrive upon. Although, completely forgetting the canyons of glass and steel towering left and right of the river, adding a whole other layer of fabric to a feeling of wonder and awe just bobbing in the water.



  • Bachelor

First supervisor

Bucholz, Merritt

Second supervisor

Ryan, Anna

Third supervisor

Griffin, Andrew





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