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You Can Swim In, But Can You Ever Leave?

By Rachelle Bowden in Miscellaneous on Aug 8, 2005 11:50AM


Late last week Chicagoist was walking over the Michigan Avenue bridge and noticed something strange in the water. It looked something like a floating garden.. we took some photos intending to do some internet research or post them online and ask readers what it was. Before we had the chance to do so, we saw an item on the local news over the weekend saying that what we took photos of was.... ready? A fish hotel!

The Friends of the Chicago River cut the ribbon on the hotel on Saturday. You can't see it looking down from the bridge, but the structure in the water is goes down 42 feet and is 3-stories tall. Apparently, fish don't like the downtown Chicago River's bare, steel walls. The hotel is actually a series of small gardens, floating & submerged, that are densly planted with wetland vegetation. It's meant to attract fish like bass and bluegills by giving them access to the shelter of aquatic plants. There's also the draw of food - the hotel has smaller fish in it like minnows that the larger fish will come and eat.

The hotel cost about $25,000 and will stay in the river til October. It was built in in partnership with the City and some of it was funded by corporate donations. If the device is successful in attracting fish, The Friends of the Chicago River says it will place similar hotels in other stretches of the river and could even be a model for fish hotels in other cities.

Oh, and pretty soon the habitat will be equipped with underwater cams so all you fish voyeurs can get a glimpse of the steamy hotel action.