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Broken Water Main Repaired

Tue., May 27, 1997

Waters receded and subway service resumed Monday after a broken water main flooded stations, streets, tunnels and buildings downtown. No injuries were reported.

The 36-inch main ruptured early Sunday several feet below the street in the Loop, the heart of downtown. At least 6 inches of water poured into a basement of the Cook County building, damaging some birth, death and marriage records stored on the lower shelves. The bulk of the 4 million records were unharmed. The basement of the James R. Thompson state office building, a landmark of ‘80s futuristic architecture, also was flooded.

Water had to be pumped out of the subway that links with O’Hare International Airport, said Chicago Transit Authority spokesman Jeff Stern. At one point, four subway lines were closed as a precaution.

Robert Harmening, an assistant commissioner of the city’s Water Department, said officials did not yet know what caused the break. He said he was glad it happened on a holiday weekend when many people were out of town.

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