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Watch the Loop's Historic Clark Street Bridge Get a Bath

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If you were in the Loop yesterday afternoon, you may have seen a flock of bystanders watching the historic Clark Street Bridge get doused in water by the Chicago Fire Department. The event has caused some confusion, with folks scratching their heads and wondering just exactly what the heck was going on. Was the bridge just dirty and needing a rinse? Did the new Chicago Riverwalk extension cause the bridge's foundation to move? Well, it's actually a little more simple than that.

According to Steven Dahlman of Loop North News/Marina City Online, the old bridge expands and contracts due to hot temperatures, and after raising to let sailboats go by, it had a little trouble folding back down.

The Clark Street Bridge [was] given a good soaking by the Chicago fireboat Christopher Wheatley on Wednesday afternoon. After the bridge was raised to allow sailboats to pass on their way to Lake Michigan, it did not completely lower. This happens every year on the Chicago River and is always fixed with copious amounts of cold river water. The only difference this year is with the Riverwalk, we no longer have to watch from a safe distance. An unoccupied part of the west end of "The Cove" was washed whether it needed to be or not. No visitors to the Riverwalk were caught in the blast from the Wheatley's water cannon, one of four on board the fireboat that are powered by two 999-horsepower diesel engines.

Christopher Wheatley was a young Chicago firefighter who died in the line of duty in August 2010.

·Anyone know what's going on with the Clark Street bridge? [Reddit]
·Previous Loop coverage [Curbed Chicago]