The first clue were the three helicopters hovering above my neighborhood this morning as I left my building. Next were the trademark blue “City of Chicago” sawhorses lining a street corner on my way to the Montrose brown line el stop. Once I was just west of Ravenswood Avenue, I experienced an oddly brown mud/ice concoction underfoot. I saw some activity in the street ahead as I entered the station, but I focused on getting my train. I’d hear something about it at some point, right?

On my way up to the platform, a girl was taking a photo with her camera phone from the first flight of stairs. “Whoa,” I said. Here’s why:

Side view of Montrose 1-22-08

Top view of Montrose 1-22-08

A water main had broken along Montrose, East of Damen, at about 1:30 this morning. The water was shut off at 7, and there’s a big clean-up job ahead. Several cars that were parked along this stretch were submerged or towed away.

My coworker Tim took both of these photos. He’s calling it “Crater Day.” I blame J.J. Abrams for devising this elaborate publicity stunt to remind Chicago to see Cloverfield.