The Stockyards

Back of the Yards

The living conditions in the neighborhood were far from ideal. Poverty, overcrowding, and illness plagued its residents. In 1889, Chicago laid sewer lines and paved some of the larger streets, but much of the neighborhood remained unimproved.

Portrait of Mary McDowell, who organized the
University of Chicago Settlement House.
(CHS ICHi-11661)

The working-class neighborhood needed community reform and grass roots organizing, and it found both in three dedicated individuals: Mary McDowell, Saul Alinsky, and Joseph Meegan. In 1894, Mary McDowell started the University of Chicago Settlement House, located near the stockyards. McDowell is best known for her successful campaign to close several disease-infested garbage dumps in Back of the Yards, her help in creating Davis Square Park, and her support for unions during the 1904 strike. She also assisted Mexican immigrants in the neighborhood by providing meeting spaces for religious services and organizing athletic and cultural programs such as team sports, dances, and English lessons.

Al Capone
Black Sox
Century of Progress
Chicago Fire
World's Columbian Expo
Parades, Protests and Politics
THe Pullman Era
The Stockyards
The Stockyards Photos
The Stockyards bibliography
Fort Dearborn

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The Pullman Era - The Stockyards
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