The Stockyards

Back of the Yards

In 1939, Saul Alinsky and Joseph Meegan took community reform one step further and united the various ethnic groups into one community via the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council. Alinsky and Meegan adopted the commonly used moniker, Back of the Yards, and made it the official neighborhood name, thus encouraging unity and community identity among its residents. Relying upon their visions of community reform as well as their ability to organize people, Alinsky and Meegan worked with the city government, area businesses, unionizers, and religious leaders to ensure neighborhood improvements. These included youth programs, support for unionization, and better housing conditions.

This photo taken in 1915 shows children in the city garbage dumps at 47th Street and Damen Avenue in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Mary McDowell successfully closed them and improved living conditions for the residents.
(CHS ICHi-01870)

Today, Back of the Yards maintains a substantial working-class population despite the absence of the stockyards and meatpacking companies. After the stockyards closed in 1971, the neighborhood actually experienced positive growth and development. The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council urged residents to stay in the area and for businesses and individuals alike to remodel old structures and build new ones to deal with the changing economy.

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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