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The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

147 Reviews

The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

147 Reviews
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Get views of Chicago’s most famous buildings, as well as insider info from an expert guide, on this architecture-focused cruise. See all the most important buildings on one tour, a hard-to-accomplish task on foot. View the skyline from the Chicago River while listening to live commentary. Snap photos of the Willis (Sears) Tower, Old Post Office, 360 Chicago Observation Deck, Wrigley Building, and more.
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skenyon1995 wrote a review Nov 2019
Hoffman Estates, Illinois5 contributions5 helpful votes
A friend of mine sent me a snail mail article from the Chicago Tribune about the Chicago Bridge Museum. Chicago has made an actual museum inside one of their 4 story Chicago River bridge towers. You can take a tour below ground and actually see the gears & inner workings of the DuSable(formerly Michigan) Ave double decker four lane bridge lift machinery. Lots of history in the upper levels. A tour guide came down to the lower level when the boats were passing above & the bridge was lifting to explain things & answer questions. The gigantic counterweight weighs an amazing 12,000 tons! The 100 yr old bridge is so superbly balanced that it only takes about a 150 HP motor & a LOT of BIG gears to lift & lower it in one minute. Amazing what they could design back then with slide rules instead of software. You can go through on your own self guided tour fairly quickly, access is from the Riverwalk area. I believe an adult ticket was $12 or so. Didnt know that boats have the right of way over cars, since the Chicago river is a federal waterway. Sorry, you have to wait for the Skipper & Gilligan!
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Date of experience: November 2019
1 Helpful vote
Alex B wrote a review Nov 2019
Providence, Rhode Island730 contributions131 helpful votes
Another one of Chicago’s cool specialty museums that tells the story of a particular aspect of the city’s rich history. This one is kind of two stories that can’t be told apart: how the Chicago River has evolved over the centuries, and how the city’s system of bridges have emerged to connect people on all banks of the river. True to its name, the museum is located inside the McCormick Bridgehouse, which is right next to the DuSable Bridge (the bridge that carries Michigan Avenue over the river). The entrance is accessible from the Riverwalk. I visited on a rainy day, which may have had something to do with this, but it honestly smelled something like a fish tank when I was inside the bridgehouse. I think its proximity to the river means that the smell will always be there to some degree. Even so, it didn’t really impact my visit. I found the exhibits and panels to be very thorough in their storytelling, and I came away knowing FAR more about the river’s amazing history than I went in knowing. Be aware that visiting this museum means you’ll be climbing multiple flights of stairs; the bridgehouse is a thin, five-story structure. It may not be the best place for people with reduced mobility, but there are a few seats available on every floor. For its inexpensive ticket price and coherent narrative, I think this museum is well worth a visit if you like history or engineering.
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Date of experience: September 2019
1 Helpful vote
Sue B wrote a review Oct 2019
North Canton, Ohio23 contributions3 helpful votes
I love historic places so really enjoyed this small museum. Beautiful views of the river from the windows. Not many people there so had time to read the historical info.
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Date of experience: September 2019
Ross W wrote a review Sep 2019
Denver, Colorado13 contributions1 helpful vote
Great little museum on the bridgeports and ecology of the Chcago River! Especially great if you don't have a lot of time in the day or want a unique local perspective of the city!
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Date of experience: September 2019
Roving300810 wrote a review Sep 2019
7 contributions
If you are interested in ‘behind the scenes’ and history topics, this is a great short diversion from your River Walk stroll. The story of the Chicago River (and its bridges, of course) is integral to Chicago and this museum does a nice job of telling it, from the founding of the city, through the bad years - the river caught on fire?!?! - to the revitalization of the river. The tour is worth the extra couple of dollars 😎
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Date of experience: September 2019
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