Monday, September 3, 2007

Let's Rebuild the Point: A Plea in Photos

This particular jumble of rocks (below) was a stop-gap repair of the revetment north of 55th Street (but south of the new revetment between 51st and 54th). It may have temporarily stopped the encroachment of the lake, but it's unusable for humans.

At the tip of the Point, the 1960s-era repair was essentially a giant concrete block formed on top of crushed limestone. The concrete has held up for forty-four years, but the wave action under the concrete has eroded away the sand under and behind the steps of the revetment, causing the limestone blocks to sink "back first" into the lake...

...and creating dangerous caverns --

The bottom has fallen out in this spot:

Swimming access at the Point was not part of the original Burnham plan. Erosion and shifting limestone blocks have created "step stones" that we clamber over to get into the lake. We love swimming there, but it's a flawed system, at best:

( The south side swimming access [pictured in the post You Call This Water Access?] is made up of two pipe ladders hooked on to the steel girders. I have always thought that the late Tom Knight -- who was a founding member of the Task Force for Promontory Point, an avid swimmer, an all around swell person, and a supporter of the Compromise Plan -- built and installed those ladders. If someone knows a different history, please let me know.)

But I digress.

Here you can see the skeleton of the steel girders and wood pilings that used to hold the limestone blocks in place:

The wood pilings were large logs when they were installed, and are mere snaggle-toothed remains now. You can see these rotted pilings in every section of revetment, even in places where limestone blocks seem to buffer the wave action:

Lake levels are at a historic low, but if you visit the spot below and walk on the dry rubble along the water's edge you'll see that even on this southern, "protected" side, the girders and pilings are gone, and there's a gap forming under the limestone promenade:

The next post will show the Compromise Plan offered by the City, Park District, and Army Corps of Engineers -- which many Hyde Parkers never even saw, thanks to the "success" of the SAVE THE POINT campaign.


Peter Rossi said...

Tom Knight did not build the ladders. They were made by a friend of his. I once met his daughter swimming at the Point but unfortunately, I have forgotten her name.

The crowning irony is that the Point Savers have blocked progress at the Point for so long that people have actually died. I imagine that a number of the elderly people who attended that orginal meeting at Montgomery Place in 2001 are dead. They never got the access to the lake that they wanted. This is very sad.

chicago pop said...

That is sad. But, there are still seniors out there who are fit enough to want to use the Point, and get in the water, and write letters to the Herald about not being able to do so.

Rode around the point on Labor Day and saw people all over the revetment, but only knee-to-waist deep in the water, probably afraid of getting busted for going further out.