Three Things We Learned About Chicago River Bridges At The First Speaker Series

Our summer speaker series kicked off Monday June 9 on the plaza of our McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum with bridge expert and author Patrick McBriarty.

Here are three quick fun facts we learned:

1. The color of the bridges is called "old bordeaux" and is made from a combination of red and black paints.

2.Capone-era mobster Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci tried to elude police by driving over the Michigan Avenue bridge as it was going up. He made the leap successfully but was captured by police after he was stuck in traffic on the north side of the bridge and tried to flee on foot. A member of the North Side Gang under Dean O'Banion, Drucci was later killed by police in 1927 while inside a police squad car.

3. Chicago fire boats sometimes hose down the bridges in hot weather in order to make the structures fit. Heat can make the steel in the bridge expand, hindering either the raising or lowering of the bridge.

Next Monday, on July 16, the guest speaker will be Mujay Gula, lecturer at the School of the Art Institute, who will talk about the Tender House Project that explores new possibilities for bridgehouses. Join us at 12:15 p.m.

Here is the rest of the schedule for the summer: 

July 23: Jaclyn Wagner, Director Conservation Action at the Shedd Aquarium, on single use plastics and the environment.
July 30: Jennifer Wasik, Principal Environmental Scientist, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, on river water quality.
Aug. 6: TBA
Aug. 13: Andy Casper, Director of Freshwater Research, Shedd Aquarium, on aquatic invasive species
Aug. 20: Doug Taron, Chief Curator of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, on butterflies of the American Prairie
Aug. 27: Professor Linda Keane (pictured), School of the Art Institute, on art along the Chicago River

In the event of rain, follow @bridgehousemuse on Twitter or call (312) 977-0227.

The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum is open Thursday-Monday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., from May 12 through October 29. The museum is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. General admission is $6 for adults, children 6 to 12 and students with an ID, $5. Admission is free on Sundays. For more information, go to