Goose island is an artificial island, created by dredging a channel in the river.

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In the 1850's, a company owned by William Ogden (who had been Chicago's first mayor) dredged the river in order to get clay for brickmaking purposes. They worked from from south to north in a straight line, along a section where the river curves to the west. The channel eventually met up with the river as it bent back to the east, thereby forming an island. The channel was known as Ogden's Canal, and also the North Branch Canal. The island was first known as Ogden's Island. There's no consensus on how it came to be called Goose Island.