The Stockyards

The Death of the Stockyards

Wrecking a Swift Company building in the Union Stock Yards.
(CHS ICHi-24563)

New technology, which helped build the Chicago stockyards and packinghouses, ironically led to their demise. After World War II, the rapid growth of the federal highway system and the development of the refrigerated truck allowed packinghouses to move out of the expensive urban areas they had depended upon for railroad access. Competition in the meatpacking business led to the building of sophisticated, mechanized plants in less expensive rural areas. Additionally, meatpackers began conducting business directly with farmers, thus bypassing the need for the stockyard. Finally, urban growth, with its increase in land value, property taxes, and anti-pollution laws, also contributed to the stockyards' decline.

Boardwalk through stock yard pens allowed workers to monitor the livestock, 1904.
(CHS DN-986)

Beginning with Wilson and Company in 1955, the major meatpacking companies ceased operations in Chicago. Less than twenty years later, on July 31, 1971, Chicago's Union Stock Yards officially closed. The area has since become an industrial park home to various small factories, none of which are involved in the meatpacking industry. Virtually no structures remain of this once predominant Chicago industry except for the giant limestone arch, erected in 1879, which marked the entrance to the stockyards.

Chicago Union Stock Yard gate at Exchange Avenue.
(CHS DN-1520)

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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Al Capone - Chicago Black Sox - A Century of Progress - Chicago Fire
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The Pullman Era - The Stockyards
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