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AdminDec 14, 2021 8:11:06 PM5 min read

CHI-Light on Local Business

Year-end always gets our team thinking about how fortunate we are. As a printer that calls River North home, there are so many interesting businesses in the metro area we’ve had an opportunity to collaborate with:

☑ Venture Capital backed start-ups and tech companies that make a positive impact on the planet
☑ Sports teams and entertainment facilities
☑ Non-Profits such as City of Hope and the ACE Mentor Program
☑ Businesses that genuinely care Windy City well-being

We love being a part of their story, one graphic at a time. And want to share more of the organizations shaping Chicago as one of the top places to visit in the United States. And excited to launch this new series, Chi-lights! They don’t need to be a printing or signage customer. We want to cover the gems in this city of broad shoulders.

So as the calendar flips to the last days of 2021 and brrr – colder temperatures, we’re not letting the winter blues get us down. No sir: sights are set on 2022 and springtime. A thawed-out Lake Michigan, flowers in bloom, and perfect days for a jaunt down by the river. That last line is for any Neil Young fans out there. Or those who remember Chris Farley as Matt Foley, living in a van “down by the river” – It’s also the segue way into this local spotlight on one of the most unique attractions in Chi-Town: the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum.

Full disclosure: a couple of years ago, we did provide directional signs for to encourage folks to visit them!

Today we are excited to spotlight this local non-profit and business that does so much to draw attention to the Chicago River system. We hope you enjoy and visit them come Spring!

What is the mission of the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum?

The Bridgehouse Museum furthers the mission of Friends of the Chicago River which is to improve and protect the Chicago River system for people, plants, and animals. Friends of the Chicago River operates the museum.

What should guests expect when they visit? Is it educational? Are there technical details about the river your team discusses?

The Bridgehouse Museum tells the story of how the Chicago River system changed as people’s use of it changed. It’s located in the southwest bridgehouse of the historic 100-year-old DuSable Bridge on Michigan Avenue – a unique location. The five-story museum showcases a river teeming with wildlife due in large part to hard fought water-quality victories and significant restoration efforts.

The museum’s exhibits reflect the action and advocacy of Friends of the Chicago River and our partners to improve the health of the river through the implementation of water quality standards, disinfection to protect recreational users, more open space, and wildlife restoration. The exhibits also explore the improved connectivity of the river for people and wildlife, the effects of the climate crisis on the river system, the creation of a blue-green corridor of interconnected green spaces, the Clean Water Act, and nature-based green infrastructure.  Guests at the museum can also see the massive gears and inner workings of the bridge.

How did the idea for the museum originate?
The Bridgehouse Museum opened in 2006 as one of the first attractions to pioneer the development of the renowned Chicago Riverwalk and is the only bridgehouse open to the public in Chicago, and the only museum located in a bridgehouse in the US.

Can you tell us about the connection between the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum and Friends of the Chicago River?
In short, Friends of the Chicago River operates the Bridgehouse Museum, Friends of the Chicago River works to make the river greener and more accessible, while building awareness of the benefits that a clean, healthy river can bring to the surrounding community. We work to make the Chicago River a natural, blue-green corridor of accessible public open space that benefits people and wildlife.

What are little-known facts about the river that might surprise locals?
The main thing is that people should know that the Chicago River has made a huge comeback. For instance, fish populations and species have gradually increased over the past 30 years, while invasive fish species have declined. Since 1974, the number of fish species increased from 10 to 77, with 60 species counted since 2000. The river is also full of wildlife such as turtles, beavers, snakes, and other wildlife. The Chicago River system is 156 miles long, but its surrounding watershed, the area that drains to it, covers 674 square miles.

What are some events happening at the Museum next year folks should look forward to?
Friends’ free Lunchtime Lecture Series at the the Bridgehouse museum occurs weekly in the summer and invites experts in river-related topics for a 30-minute chat on the outdoor plaza space. Past speakers have been experts in architecture, wildlife, art, and policy.

Stay tuned for lectures on museum’s outdoor plaza on the Chicago Riverwalk, next year.

Bridge Lift Viewing at the Bridgehouse Museum starts in late September. These are special events that provide close-up views of the DuSable Bridge in motion from inside the museum. Guests can view the massive gears from several feet away in our gear room or climb to the top of the tower to see the bridge lift from above.

The museum will be open at 9:45am on these days and the lift is expected to happen between 10 and 10:30 a.m. We cannot guarantee the timing of this as it depends on the efficiency of the bridge tenders, how many boats need to pass, and weather.

While bridge lift viewing is closed for the winter, there will be new dates for the Spring bridge lifts in the new year. So its not too early to think about your next adventure in downtown Chicago. Visit the Bridgehouse museum website and check back. In early 2022, we’ll cover some of what’s happening at the museum so you can plan a fun visit! Thanks for reading this installment of Chi-lights and looking forward to bringing another local business your way!