Kinzie Street Bridge – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Kinzie Street Bridge

In 2004, a Dave Matthews Band tour bus dumped 800 pounds of waste off a bridge and onto an unsuspecting tour boat below. 

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In 2004, the Dave Matthews Band was on tour and staying in Chicago for a two-night engagement at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. On August 8, they had one show down and one more to go. The bus driver, en route to the hotel to pick up the band’s violinist, stopped on the Kinzie Street Bridge and emptied the contents of the tour bus’s blackwater tank—he dumped 800 pounds of human waste through the grating of the bridge into the Chicago River below. At that moment, a river boat giving an architectural tour was passing under the Kinzie Street Bridge.

There were 120 passengers aboard the tour boat, and most of them were hit by the foul deluge. One of those passengers was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who described what hit the boat as a “foul ‘liquid substance’” and “horrific.”

After an investigation, the bus driver pleaded guilty to dumping the waste in April 2005. As part of a legal settlement, the band paid $200,000 to local environmental protection efforts. They also donated an additional $100,000 to two groups that protect the river and the surrounding area. On the 19th anniversary of the incident in 2023, the Riot Fest Historical Society attached a plaque to the Kinzie Street Bridge to commemorate the event.

Today, the architecture tour operated by the Chicago Architecture Center still passes under the bridge with a brief mention of the incident. The Kinzie Street Bridge stands as a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the willingness of all to take shortcuts.

Know Before You Go

The bridge is accessible by sidewalk and riverboat architecture tour. Shoreline Sightseeing, First Lady Cruises (Chicago Architecture Center), and Wendella Tours and Cruises all pass under the bridge.

In partnership with KAYAK

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