Chicago Portage National Historic Site Interpretive Center

Chicago owes its very existence as a city to the location of the Chicago Portage.  The first European explorers recognized the importance of this short land connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi.  The Chicago Portage National Historic Site is one of only two National Historic Sites in Illinois.  Today, most Chicagoans are unaware of its location and significance.

In 1988 Civic Center Authority developed funding to place a monumental statue of Joliet and Marquette and their Native American guide to mark the site and develop a Plan for an Interpretive Center.

Completion of a Chicago Portage National Historic Site Interpretive Center could serve as a tourist attraction and the gateway from the city to the Corridor.


   The 1990 Interpretive Center Development Plan (and a previous economic feasibility study) estimated that the museum would create ten full time on-site jobs and would attract up to one million visitors annually.  The expansion of nearby hotel, restaurant and other service facilities will create jobs and increase local tax revenues.

   Interpretation of Chicago Portage National Historic Site will provide the visitor from the northeastern Illinois area, a market of nearly 8 million population, with a knowledge of our local heritage that is not available anywhere else.

   The Chicago Portage Interpretive Center would also serve as a gateway to introduce visitors to the historic, cultural and recreational sites found throughout the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor.