Taking Lower Wacker is something insiders do. It’s efficient but vaguely creepy, too. The subterranean atmosphere, weird light, and ancient metal and grime offer a sharp rebuke to the picturesque sights spinning past on the surface streets and the Drive.
A blessed escape from tyranny of the grid, the old-time oddness of Lower Wacker is enveloping, smattered with the ghosts of storied fatalities.
The city is always building, leading to the complex vista that Celia, commuting, sees daily: the buildings, bridges, and balustrades rimming the River, offering a pleasing spectacle to the passing trains. Cars, trains, boats, and pedestrians pass distractedly through a landscape that’s the work of many decades and thousands upon thousands of laborers’ hands.
The repair barge in the river, for fixing the bridge, is fleeting evidence of all that goes in to making this the home that we know.
Rush-hour traffic snakes along the Chicago River. Rain and mist dim down the city, reducing movement to a crawl. How long will we be? With each breath of the bus’s sodden passengers, its windows steam. The compass-point of the Wrigley Building bleeds into the general gray, seeming to recede. The Trump Tower does its Flatiron impersonation.
I happened to be driving along Wacker Drive this evening, and, for once, was truly happy to have to stop for a red light.
I seldom come this way in a car, and this was my one chance to take a picture of the repairs underway on the historic Wells Street Bridge. Not only did the Merchandise Mart look terrific, as always, but I managed to take a picture of the huge crane that has been used to hoist the massive prefabricated sections of the bridge in place.
The Wells Street Bridge was an engineering marvel when first built in the 1920s. It is a double-decker draw bridge that carries both car traffic and, on its upper level, the elevated train. Now most of the bridge is in need of repairs, so traffic has been cut off for a number of days, while old components are removed and the new ones put in place.
People grumble about the inconvenience.
The first phase of the work was completed Monday, as you can see from the el train that is crossing. The second phase, which will be to replace the south section of the bridge, will require another closing and is scheduled to take place some time next month.
There’s a sweetness to the morning commute; have you noticed? Everyone is looking their best, if a little sleepy (that’s part of the charm, the romance and weariness clinging from the night before). Bodies fresh, clothes fresh. Hair washed and combed. Many clutching coffee, though the most wide-awake have worked out already. More