Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Yes, we knew it sometimes rains in Chicago
Sometimes what you don't write is as important as what you do.
On Thursday, I was trucking to the train after a long, soggy day at work—it wouldn't have been so damp had I stayed in the office, but I grabbed the No. 22 bus up Clark Street to stop by the Chicago History Museum to do some research, and that was closer to scuba diving than commuting.
Anyway, I looked over the Orleans Street Bridge and notice that Rahm Emanuel's brand new section of River Walk was under an inch of water.
"You'd think the geniuses at the city would have factored in the idea that sometimes the river will rise..." I thought to myself. I wondered whether I should send the photographs immediately to the paper. Maybe they could splash them—pun intended—across the front page. "RIVER WALK ALL WET!"
But something stayed my hand. As safe a bet as assuming other people are stupid often is, you don't want that to be your default. I waited. From the radio that evening, I learned two inches of rain had fallen that day, the most rain in one day for the past 18 months. A rare event.
"What if ..." I thought. "The River Walk was designed to be inundated by the river, for an hour or two after freakish once-a-year deluges?"
As luck would have it, on Monday I spoke with Dan Burke, the chief engineer at the Department of Transportation. We were just winding up our conversation about an unrelated matter when I told him I had seen the submerged section. He said, in essence, yup, that's what's supposed to happen.
"Everything in the River Walk is designed to be flood tolerant," he said.
The factuality of mainstream media is being emphasized a lot. But they also do the "pause and think" thing and the "do I have all the facts" thing and the "is this fair?" thing. Not everyone does, and we see the result.