San Diego, CA
Harbor Light Chicago
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© Christine Till
The Chicago Harbor Light, Chicago, was constructed in 1893 for the World's Columbian Exposition and moved to its present site in 1919. The Lighthouse was featured as "the engineering marvel" of Spectacle Reef Light and a 111-foot-tall (34 m) skeletal cast iron lighthouse tower. The structure has several levels: a concrete base and two red roofed buildings with a tapered white cylinder between them which is topped by a parapet and the light itself.
A number of Fresnel lenses were on display, including a stunning Third Order Fresnel lens which previously was awarded first prize at a Paris glass exhibition. The lens featured alternating red and white panels, and had been ordered for installation in the new lighthouse at Point Loma Light (new) in California. The coincidental conclusion of construction of the new Chicago Harbor light and the close of the Exhibition prompted the Lighthouse Board keep the lens in Chicago, and thus the lens was installed in the lantern room of the new Chicago Harbor Light tower.
In 1917 the breakwater was renovated. At the time, the lighthouse was moved to its present site, and its attached fog signal room and boathouse were built.
The design is "unique ... similar to that of the offshore spark-plug towers, but this tower is taller." Except for the additions made at the time of the move, it "bears some resemblance" to the Rock of Ages Light near Isle Royale on Lake Superior, which is its contemporary.
The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 19, 1984, and later was designated a Chicago Landmark on April 9, 2003. The original Third Order Fresnel lens was removed, and is now on display at Cabrillo National Monument in California. It had been originally intended for and was destined for the Point Loma (California) light, but was diverted (for almost a century) and kept in Chicago following its display at the exposition.
March 19th, 2013
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