Killer Carp Threaten Chicago Architecture Scene


If you harbor any doubt that one species of fish could potentially take down an entire city’s tourism industry, take a long, sober look at the creature on the right. That’s an Asian carp, and it is terrifying. The “voracious and prolific invasive species has destroyed native fish populations and disrupted ecosystems on its 15-year march up the Illinois River,” and the Army Corps of Illinois is now faced with a decision that may include shutting the river locks into Lake Michigan… which would mean no traffic on the Chicago River, ergo no architectural boat tours. Take a peep at the city’s architectural wonders (which, ahem, will be visible on foot, regardless) after the jump.

View from the Chicago River. Carp be damned.

More than one million people ride the architecture cruise boats up and down the Chicago River each summer, an audience served by both private boat companies and the city’s architectural foundations. According to this article from the Chicago Tribune, the prospect of closing the river’s shipping channel is still not sinking in: “‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think our company would be so severely threatened by a fish,’ said Chip Collopy, president of Shoreline Sightseeing tours, a family-run business that has navigated Chicago’s rivers since 1939.”

There is, of course, a wider view to consider. Stopping the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes — the world’s largest freshwater group of lakes — would delay a massive threat to the region’s multibillion-dollar commercial and recreational fishing industries, a “nightmare” scenario both for biologists and those who depend on the body of water for more than just sightseeing.

Here are some of the iconic Chicago buildings that people — not carp — get to see from the riverfront:

Marina Towers by Bertrand Goldberg (which may seem familiar from this Wilco album cover).

Carson Pirie Scott Company Store by Louis Sullivan (left), Lakeshore Apartments by Mies Van Der Rohe (right).

The Willis Tower (ahem, SEARS) was the world’s tallest building from 1974 to 1998. The John Hancock Center (right) was designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.