Chicago has many unmarked historic sites. The building at 2126 North Sheffield Avenue is another of these. In September ’01 the hunt for America’s most wanted terrorist ended here.
Carl Sandburg called Chicago the “Hog Butcher for the World.” He wrote those words in 1916, celebrating the city’s great stock yards. The yards were the place where live animals were slaughtered, so that they can be turned into packaged meat for consumption.
During the 1850s Chicago was becoming a railroad center. That made our city the final destination for the cattle the cowboys were driving to Dodge City and Abilene and Wichita and all those wild towns you used to see in the Western movies. At first there were many little stock yards around Chicago near the different railroad lines.
In 1861 the Civil War broke out. Meatpacking boomed. With the industry outgrowing those small scattered sites, a group of railroads got together to build a consolidated facility. They settled on a location near the edge of the city, at Halsted and 39th (Pershing).
The Union Stock Yards began operations on December 25, 1865. The holiday date was not planned. Christmas Day happened to be when the first shipment of hogs arrived.
After the yards were established, Swift and Armour and the other packers opened plants in the area.
Remember December 31, 1999?
Okay, I hear you. And I'm with you--sometimes I have trouble remembering thirteen days ago, let alone thirteen years ago.
But thirteen years ago today, Chicago and the rest of the world were preparing for the Turn of the Millennium. We were also preparing for a possible catastrophe called Y2K.
“Y2K” was short for Year 2000, and the problem was with computers. Computer programmers had long been rendering years with the last two digits only. For example, “63″ was used in place of 1963. It was a way of saving bits on the computer.
So what would happen when 1999 clicked over into 2000? Would computers think we were moving back in time to 1900? Then anything electronic might go crazy!
Massive power failures! Financial records gone! Elevators crashing! Planes falling from the sky! Missiles being launched by mistake! During the late 1990s, a whole industry of Y2K-fixers sprang up.
It was December 1949, and the 20th Century was reaching its mid-point. On this date the Tribune began running a series of articles by reporter Carl Wiegman about a group that was becoming increasingly visible and important—Chicago’s African-Americans.
In 1910 the city’s Black population had been 44,000. By 1940 the number had grown to 277,000, and was projected to rise to about 400,000 in 1950–over 10 percent of Chicago’s population. That was a significant number of people. They could no longer be ignored.
Housing was the number one problem. True, the number of African-Americans in the city had kept growing and growing and growing. But because of segregation, they were still crammed into the narrow “Black Belt” on the South Side.
Unscrupulous landlords had taken advantage of the situation. Countless old apartment buildings had been chopped up. A former six-flat might now have twenty or more kitchenettes.
How well did you find your way around the West Side of 1979?
We are on Ogden Avenue just west of Central Park, looking back toward downtown. One clue is that this is a very wide street crossed by an 'L' line at an oblique angle. The view of the Sears Tower is from the southwest, which means this is one of the diagonal streets.
This stretch of Ogden was the part of Route 66, still an official U.S. highway when the older picture was taken. The "Mother Road" was decommissioned in 1985.
The statue on Sheridan Road near Belmont has always been one of my favorites. I often passed it when I was a child, in the days when the Addison bus went downtown. It reminded me of those Frederick Remington illustrations in books about the Old West.
This was the Monday before Christmas, the last day before winter, and it was cold in Chicago. A few minutes past two in the afternoon, police began blocking off the streets near Michigan and Chestnut. An ambulance had just arrived. Something big was happening.