Whats left of the famous Chicago Stockyards?

I was saddened to learn the famous Chicago Stockyards closed a long time ago. They were such a defining element of Chicago. Carl Sandburg immortalized them in his poem Chicago.

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;

Anything left at all? Any meat packing plants? The railroad spur that brought in the cattle? A museum?

Hopefully not the flies. Working at the Amphitheater during the summer months was miserable.

I imagine the stockyards were smelly and full of flies. But that smell meant a lot of money and was responsible for building Chicago. A lot of immigrants worked in those packing houses.

Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle tells the gritter and unpleasant side of that world.

It’s an industrial park these days. One of the original gates is still there at Exchange and Peoria. There’s a couple smaller meat packers still around there, but I don’t think there’s any major slaughterhouses anymore. Chiappetti’s was the last one from the stockyard days and they moved along a few years ago. I believe a Halal butcher moved into their place, but that’s the only slaughterhouse I know of still in Chicago.

BTW, I was born in the neighborhood next to the Stockyards (the “Back of the Yards” neighborhood) in the mid-70s after the Stockyards closed, and I swear I remember there still being a funk about the neighborhood up through the mid-80s, more than ten years after the stockyards had been closed. Maybe I’m just imagining it, but those are my memories.

That’s very interesting Pulykamell. Thank you.

It’s something I had wondered about. Whether there were any tours of the old railway spur and stockyards. I can cross that off my to do list. :wink:

Aceplace: here are some ideas for a tour:

The labor tours sound very interesting. Something my wife and I both could enjoy. I’ll check into it. Might be something we could do later this summer.

Hey, if you’re in Chicago and feel like it, drop me a line and I’d be happy to act as tour guide. Otherwise, as far as tours in Chicago go, try the architectural boat tour. I’m not really someone who enjoys organized tours too much, but this one is quite informative even for a local.

I’ll talk with my wife and see what she wants to do this year. A Chicago trip would be fun.

There are the rail lines and a few of the rail yards in the area, but stockyard business pretty much left the area in the 1970s. If you drive through the area, you can see signs of it having been there at one time (some businesses still have signs painted on their buildings and some of the warehouses are still standing) if you know where to look.

However, if someone was looking massive open air cattle pens or large herds of cattle, they would be greatly disappointed.


Chicago resident - 4.5 years
Just worked in the area again - 2 years

You’re not imaging anything. My grandfather worked in the stockyards, I recall going up and down Halsted in the late 70’s and 80’s and wondering what that funk was.

This may be the last vinyl I ever bought, and for years it drew the most comment when someone visiting flipped thru my albums - it’s amazing how many people didn’t get the reference, living right here in Chicago.

According to someone who I know that works for the City of Chicago, they are concerned that there are areas around Back of the Yards where if there’s any digging, they could find anthrax-infected cow remains. It’s not likely that there was much regulation going on when the stockyards were open.

You can’t cremate anthrax-diseased animals. You have to bury them.

I think I recently saw something on television, probably Geoffrey Baer, possibly his Time Machine series (during a pledge drive?) that said that the Union Stock Yard Gate is the only remaining structure from the Yards.

PS: Stockyard vs stock yard?

This place is still open:http://www.chiappettimeats.com

Nice cuts.
Long wait.

The legacy of the stockyards lives on. In at least two ways:

  1. Philip Armour of meat-packing fame donated a million bucks to start the Armour Institute of Technology on the south side. Years later, it merged with the Lewis School of Humanities to form Illinois Institute of Technology.

  2. Henry Ford visited the stockyards, and observed the methodical way they “disassembled” a carcass as it was carried along on overhead rails. He reversed this process in his mind, and invented the “assembly line” concept, which enabled him to produce automobiles at a fraction of the cost of his competitors. A technique now almost universal.