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This Bridgehouse On The Chicago River Is Also A 5-Story Museum You Can Visit

The bridgehouse at the south end of the DuSable Bridge is packed with Chicago River history.

Ever wondered what that building is on the Michigan Avenue Bridge? It turns out you can go inside. [Provided]
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DOWNTOWN — The column-like building that sits next to the DuSable Bridge at Michigan Avenue isn’t just a pretty piece of architecture.

Visitors can actually go into the building, called the McCormick Bridgehouse — and inside they’ll find the five-story Chicago River Museum, which has educational exhibits and views of the river and city.

The bridgehouse, which is 98 years old and sits at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, recently welcomed its 200,000th visitor to the museum.

Friends of the Chicago River opened the museum in 2006, using the exhibits there to show why Chicagoans should help keep the Chicago River safe.

The museum has a different theme for each of its five floors: The first floor shows the relationship between the Native Americans who lived in Chicago and the Europeans who moved there, and visitors can also look at a gear room that is used to move Chicago’s bridges.

The second floor shows how the Chicago River made the city into a busy port. The museum’s third floor has views of the river itself, and the fourth floor shows the city’s impact on the river. The fifth and final floor looks at the health of the river as it is now and has views of the city.

“The McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum is like no other museum in the city, a truly special place to visit for tourists and Chicago residents alike,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. “People are amazed not only by the building but the fascinating story of how the Chicago River system and its bridges are at the heart of Chicago’s past, present and future.”

The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Monday until Oct. 29. General admission is $6 for adults; $5 for children ages 6-12, adults older than 62 and students with an ID; and free for children 5 and younger. Admission is free Sundays.