Apr 13, 2022 - News

Remembering the Great Loop Flood 30 years later

Guy walking down the street

Workmen carry sandbags outside the State of Illinois building after basements of buildings in the downtown area were flooded in April 1992. Photo: Mike Fisher/AP Photos

Exactly 30 years ago today, Chicagoans woke up to news of massive flooding in the Loop.

Why it matters: The flood would eventually shut down power to much of downtown, halt subway service, and lead to the evacuation of 250,000 people.

  • It closed down the Board of Trade and Mercantile Exchange, sending ripples through global stock markets.
  • By the end, the Great Loop Flood of 1992 caused $2 billion in damage.

Flashback: City crews accidentally punctured an underground tunnel during construction months before the flood.

  • Almost a week after the flooding, crews sealed the hole with concrete after previously trying rocks, cement chunks, and — no joke — mattresses.
  • Transportation Commissioner John LaPlante, who oversaw bids to fix the hole, was fired, but subsequent reporting suggests he was not entirely to blame.

Go deeper: Relive the disaster with this terrific WBEZ Curious City episode. Reporter Jesse Dukes suggests "it's the most Chicago story ever told."

guys with a hose
Workers drain water from Marshall Field's on State Street in April 1992. Field's was one of 14 buildings that had about 25 feet of water in their sub-basements. Photo: Mark Elias/AP Photo

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