The Union Stock Yard & Transit Co., or The Yards, was the meatpacking district in Chicago for more than a century, starting in 1865. The district was operated by a group of railroad companies that acquired marshland and turned it into a centralized processing area. By the 1890s, the railroad money behind the Union Stockyards was Vanderbilt money. The Union Stockyards operated in the New City community area for 106 years, helping Chicago become known as "hog butcher for the world" and the center of the American meatpacking industry for decades.
The stockyards became the focal point of the rise of some of the earliest international companies. These companies refined novel industrial innovations and influenced financial markets. Both the rise and fall of the district owe their fortunes to the evolution of transportation services and technology in America. The stockyards have become an integral part of the popular culture of Chicago's history.
From the Civil War until the 1920s and peaking in 1924, more meat was processed in Chicago than in any other place in the world. Construction began in June 1865 with an opening on Christmas Day in 1865. The Yards closed at midnight on Friday, July 30, 1971, after several decades of decline during the decentralization of the meatpacking industry. The Union Stock Yard Gate was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 24, 1972, and a National Historic Landmark on May 29, 1981.
Before construction of the various private stockyards, tavern owners provided pastures and care for cattle herds waiting to be sold. With the spreading service of railroads, several small stockyards were created in and around the city of Chicago. In 1848, a stockyard called the Bulls Head Market was opened to the public. The Bulls Head Stock Yards were located at Madison Street and Ogden Avenue. In the years that followed, several small stockyards were scattered throughout the city. Between 1852 and 1865, five (5) railroads were constructed to Chicago. The stockyards that sprang up were usually built along various rail lines of these new railroad companies. Some railroads built their own stockyards in Chicago. The Illinois Central and the Michigan Central railroads combined to build the largest set of pens on the lake shore east of Cottage Grove Avenue from 29th Street to 35th Street. In 1878, the New York Central Railroad managed to buy a controlling interest in the Michigan Central Railroad.:33 In this way, Cornelius Vanderbilt, owner of the New York Central Railroad, got his start in the stockyard business in Chicago.
Several factors contributed to consolidation of the Chicago stockyards: westward expansion of railroads between 1850 and 1870, which drove great commercial growth in Chicago as a major railroad center, and the Mississippi River blockade during the Civil War that closed all north-south river trade. The United States government purchased a great deal of beef and pork to feed the Union troops fighting the Civil War. As a consequence, hog receipts at the Chicago stockyards rose from 392,000 hogs in 1860 to 1,410,000 hogs over the winter butchering season of 1864-1865; over the same time period, beef receipts in Chicago rose from 117,000 head to 338,000 head. With an influx of butchers and small meat packing concerns, the number of businesses greatly increased to process the flood of livestock being shipped to the Chicago stockyards. The goal was to butcher and process the livestock locally rather than transferring it to other northern cities for butchering and processing. Keeping up with the huge number of animals arriving each day proved impossible until a new wave of consolidation and modernization altered the meatpacking business in the post-Civil War era.
The Union Stock Yards, designed to consolidate operations, was built in 1864 on marshland south of the city. It was south and west of the earlier stock yards in an area bounded by Halsted Street on the east, South Racine Avenue on the west, with 39th Street as the northern boundary and 47th Street as the southern boundary. Led by the Alton, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, a consortium of nine railroad companies (hence the "Union" name) acquired the 320-acre (1.3 km2) marshland area in southwest Chicago for $100,000 in 1864. The stockyards were connected to the city's main rail lines by 15 miles (24 km) of track. In 1864, the Union Stock Yards were located just outside the southern boundary of the city of Chicago. Within five years, the area was incorporated into the city.
Eventually, the 375-acre (1.52 km2) site had 2300 separate livestock pens, room to accommodate 75,000 hogs, 21,000 cattle and 22,000 sheep at any one time. Additionally, hotels, saloons, restaurants, and offices for merchants and brokers sprang up in the growing community around the stockyards. Led by Timothy Blackstone, a founder and the first president of the Union Stock Yards and Transit Company, "The Yards" experienced tremendous growth. Processing two million animals yearly by 1870, in two decades the number rose to nine million by 1890. Between 1865 and 1900, approximately 400 million livestock were butchered within the confines of the Yards.
By the start of the 20th century, the stockyards employed 25,000 people and produced 82 percent of the domestic meat consumed nationally. In 1921, the stockyards employed 40,000 people. Two thousand men worked directly for the Union Stock Yard & Transit Co., and the rest worked for companies such as meatpackers, which had plants in the stockyards. By 1900, the 475-acre (1.92 km2) stockyard contained 50 miles (80 km) of road, and had 130 miles (210 km) of track along its perimeter. At its largest area, The Yards covered nearly 1 square mile (3 km2) of land, from Halsted Street to Ashland Avenue and from 39th (now Pershing Rd.) to 47th Streets.
At one time, 500,000 US gallons (2,000 m3) a day of Chicago River water were pumped into the stockyards. So much stockyard waste drained into the South Fork of the river that it was called Bubbly Creek due to the gaseous products of decomposition. The creek bubbles to this day. When the city permanently reversed the flow of the Chicago River in 1900, the intent was to prevent the Stock Yards' waste products, along with other sewage, from flowing into Lake Michigan and contaminating the city’s drinking water.
The meatpacking district was served between 1908 and 1957 by a short Chicago 'L' line with several stops, devoted primarily to the daily transport of thousands of workers and even tourists to the site. The line was constructed when the city of Chicago forced the removal of surface trackage on 40th Street.
Evolving methods of transportation and distribution led to declining business and the closing of the Union Stock Yards in 1971. National Wrecking Company negotiated a contract whereby National Wrecking cleared a 102-acre site and removed some 50 acres of animal pens, auxiliary buildings and the eight story Exchange Building. It took approximately eight months to complete the job and ready the site for the building of an industrial park.
The area and scale of the stockyards, along with technological advancements in rail transport and refrigeration, allowed for the creation of some of America's first truly global companies led by entrepreneurs such as Gustavus Franklin Swift and Philip Danforth Armour. Philip Armour was the first person to build a modern large-scale meatpacking plant in Chicago in 1867. The Armour plant was built at 45th Street and Elizabeth Avenue immediately to the west of the Union Stockyards. This new plant employed the modern "assembly line" (or rather dis-assembly line) method of work. The mechanized process with its killing wheel and conveyors helped inspire the automobile assembly line that Henry Ford popularized in 1913. For a time the Armour plant, located on a twelve (12) acre site, was renowned as the largest factory in the world.
In addition, hedging transactions by the stockyard companies were pivotal in the establishment and growth of the Chicago-based commodity exchanges and futures markets. Selling on the futures market allowed the seller to have a guaranteed price at a set time in the future. This was extremely helpful to those sellers who expected their cattle or hogs to come to market with a glut of other cattle or hogs when prices might necessarily be substantially lower than the guaranteed futures price.
Following the arrival of Armour in 1867, Gustav Swift's company arrived in Chicago in 1875 and built another modern large-scale meatpacking plant at 42nd Street and South Justine Street. The Morris Company built a meatpacking plant at 42nd Street and Elizabeth Street. The Hammond Company and the Wilson Company also built meatpacking plants in the area west of the Chicago stockyards. Eventually, meatpacking byproduct manufacturing of leather, soap, fertilizer, glue (such as the large glue factory located at 44th Street and Loomis Street), pharmaceuticals, imitation ivory, gelatin, shoe polish, buttons, perfume, and violin strings prospered in the neighborhood. Additionally, there was a "Hair Factory," located at 44th Street and Ashland Avenue, which processed hair from butchered animals into saleable items.
Next to the Union Stock Yards, the International Amphitheatre building was built on west side of Halsted Street at 42nd Street in the 1930s, originally to hold the annual International Live Stock Exposition which began in 1900. It became a venue for many national conventions.
Historian William Cronon concludes:
The Chicago Union Stock Yards Fire started on December 22, 1910, destroying $400,000 of property and killing twenty-one firemen, including the Fire Marshal James J. Horan. Fifty engine companies and seven hook and ladder companies fought the fire until it was declared extinguished by Chief Seyferlich on December 23. In 2004, a memorial to all Chicago firefighters who have died in the line of duty was erected just behind the Union Stock Yards Gate at the intersection of Exchange Avenue and Peoria Street.
A larger fire occurred on Saturday, May 19, 1934, which burned almost 90% of the stockyards, including the exchange building, stockyard inn, and the International Livestock Exposition building. This larger fire was seen as far away as Indiana, and caused approximately $6 million worth of damages. While only one watchman was killed, a few cattle also perished, but the yards were in business the following Sunday evening.
Following the opening of the new Union Stockyards on December 25, 1865, a community of workers began living in the area just west of the packing plants between Ashland Avenue and South Robey Street and bounded on the north by 43rd Street and on the south by 47th Street. At first, the residents were overwhelmingly Irish and German—60% Irish and 30% German. Officially designated the "Town of Lake" until its incorporation into the City of Chicago in about 1870, the neighborhood was known locally as "Packingtown." However, much later in the 1930s, the community would become known as the "Back of the Yards."
The overwhelming sensation about the neighborhood was the smell of the community caused not just by the packing plants located immediately to the east, but also by the 345-acre Chicago Union Stock Yards containing 2,300 pens of livestock, located further east from the packing plants.
Settlement in the area that was to become known as the "Back of the Yards" began in the 1850s before there were any meat packers or stockyards in the area. At this time the area was known as the "Town of Lake." Indeed, the area would continue to be called Town of Lake until 1939. Witness that the newspaper of the area was called the Town of Lake Journal. Only with the founding of the community organization called the "Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council" in 1939 did the neighborhood west and south of the meat packinghouses start being called the "Back of the Yards." It was a name that the residents proudly claimed as their own. In 1939, the Town of Lake Journal officially changed its name to Back of the Yards Journal.
Pioneers to the area first called "Town of Lake" were S. S. Crocker and John Caffrey. Indeed, Crocker earned the nickname "Father of the Town of Lake." By February 1865 the area was incorporated officially as "Town of Lake" the area still consisted of fewer than 700 persons. In the early 1860s the meat packing industry of the United States was still located in Cincinnati, Ohio, the original "Porkopolis" of the pre-Civil War era. However, with the end of the American Civil War, the meat packing industry had started to move westward along with the westward migration of the population of the United States. For the meat packing industry moving west meant coming to Chicago. As early as 1827, Archibauld Clybourn had established himself as a butcher in a log slaughter house on the north branch of the Chicago River and supplied most to the garrison of Fort Dearborn. Other small butchers came later. In 1848, the Bull's Head Stockyard began operations at Madison Street and Ogden Avenue on the West Side of Chicago. Operations for this early stockyard, however, still meant holding and feeding cattle and hogs in transit to meat packing plants further east—Indianapolis and, of course, Cincinnati.
The prosperity of the stockyards was due to both the concentration of railroads and the evolution of refrigerated railroad cars. Its decline was due to further advances in post-World War II transportation and distribution. Direct sales of livestock from breeders to packers, facilitated by advancement in interstate trucking, made it cheaper to slaughter animals where they were raised and excluded the intermediary stockyards. At first, the major meatpacking companies resisted change, but Swift and Armour both surrendered and vacated their plants in the Yards in the 1950s.
In 1971, the area bounded by Pershing Road, Ashland, Halsted, and 47th Street became The Stockyards Industrial Park. The neighborhood to the west and south of the industrial park is still known as Back of the Yards, and is still home to a thriving immigrant population.
A remnant of the Union Stock Yard Gate still arches over Exchange Avenue, next to the firefighters' memorial, and can be seen by those driving along Halsted Street. This limestone gate, marking the entrance to the stockyards, survives as one of the few relics of Chicago's heritage of livestock and meatpacking. The steer head over the central arch is thought to represent "Sherman," a prize-winning bull named after John B. Sherman, a founder of the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company. The gate is a designated U.S. National Historic Landmark.
In 1906 Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, uncovering the horrid conditions in the stockyards around the start of the 20th century. The stockyards are referred to in Carl Sandburg's poem Chicago: "proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation." Frank Sinatra mentioned the yards in his 1964 song "My Kind of Town," and the stockyards receive a mention in the opening chapter of Thomas Pynchon's novel Against the Day. The Skip James song "Hard Times Killing floor blues" refers to the nickname of the slaughter part of the stockyards during the great depression in the 1930s. The Yards were a major tourist stop, with visitors such as Rudyard Kipling, Paul Bourget and Sarah Bernhardt. The play Saint Joan of the Stockyards, a version of the story of Joan of Arc by Bertolt Brecht, takes place in the stockyards. The 1950 film Union Station with William Holden has the final scene at the Union Stockyards. In "Rose Fights Back", a 1989 episode of The Golden Girls, Rose Nyland reveals that she and her husband Charlie splurged on a trip to the Chicago Stock Yards as a romantic trip for their 20th Anniversary.
Armour & Company was an American company and was one of the five leading firms in the meat packing industry. It was founded in Chicago, in 1867, by the Armour brothers led by Philip Danforth Armour. By 1880, the company had become Chicago's most important business and had helped make Chicago and its Union Stock Yards the center of America's meatpacking industry. During the same period, its facility in Omaha, Nebraska, boomed, as well, making the city's meatpacking industry the largest in the nation by 1959. In connection with its meatpacking operations, the company also ventured into pharmaceuticals (Armour Pharmaceuticals) and soap manufacturing, introducing Dial soap in 1948.
Presently, the Armour food brands are split between refrigerated meat (Armour) and canned shelf-stable meat products (Armour Star). The Armour pharmaceutical brand is owned by Forest Laboratories. Dial soap is now owned by Henkel.Brandon Railroad
The Brandon Railroad (reporting mark BRAN) is a switching and terminal railroad that operates 17.3 miles of former South Omaha Terminal Railway track outside of Omaha, Nebraska. This railroad started out as the Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha in 1897. In July 1927 it became the South Omaha Terminal Railway and then was taken over by the BRAN in 1978. The BRAN has connections to the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad.Bubbly Creek
Bubbly Creek is the nickname given to the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River. It runs entirely within the city of Chicago, Illinois, U.S. It marks the boundary between the Bridgeport and McKinley Park community areas of the city. The creek derives its name from the gases bubbling out of the riverbed from the decomposition of blood and entrails dumped into the river in the early 20th century by the local meatpacking businesses surrounding the Union Stock Yards directly south of the creek's endpoint at Pershing Road. It was brought to notoriety by Upton Sinclair in his exposé on the American meat packing industry entitled The Jungle.Bubbly Creek originates near 38th Street, at the Racine Avenue Pump Station of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. It flows in a generally northward direction for approximately 6,600 feet (2,000 m), and joins with the South Branch of the Chicago River.Chicago Junction Railway
The Chicago Junction Railway operated a switching and terminal railroad in Chicago, connecting the Union Stock Yards with most other railroads in the city. It also briefly operated an outer belt, which became the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad in 1907. The New York Central Railroad acquired control of the company in 1922 and leased it to subsidiary Chicago River and Indiana Railroad. The line is now owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway.Chicago Union Stock Yards fire
The Chicago Union Stock Yards fire occurred from December 22 to December 23, 1910 and resulted in the deaths of twenty-one Chicago Fire Department firemen.Until September 11, 2001, it was the deadliest building collapse in American history, in terms of firefighter fatalities, although the Texas City Disaster of 1947 killed more firefighters overall. It remains the worst such incident in Chicago history.Corwith Yard
Corwith Yards, a railroad intermodal freight terminal located at Pershing Road (39th Street) & Kedzie Avenue in the southwest side of Chicago, Illinois, in the neighborhood of Brighton Park, is a landmark in the history of railroad freight transport. At the time it was built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1887, it was the world's largest railway yard. With adjacent parking and buildings it covers nearly a square mile of land. In the late 19th century Corwith Yards was the end of the line for trains of livestock loaded at AT&SF stations such as Dodge City, Kansas, and bound for the Union Stock Yards, as well as grain and other cargo from the western United States.
Now called the Corwith Intermodal Facility, it now handles much more freight than it did in its 19th-century heyday, for the BNSF Railway, mostly in the form of shipping containers. Corwith container cranes load approximately 1900 containers per day. Human Intelligence systems are used to sort & route the containers.Floyd Jones
Floyd Jones (July 21, 1917 – December 19, 1989) was an American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. He was one of the first of the new generation of electric blues artists to record in Chicago after World War II, and a number of his recordings are regarded as classics of the Chicago blues idiom. His song "On the Road Again" was a top 10 hit for Canned Heat in 1968. Notably for a blues artist of his era, several of his songs have economic or social themes, such as "Stockyard Blues" (which refers to a strike at the Union Stock Yards), "Hard Times" and "Schooldays".International Amphitheatre
The International Amphitheatre was an indoor arena located in Chicago, Illinois, between 1934 and 1999. It was located on the west side of Halsted Street, at 42nd Street, on the city's south side, adjacent to the Union Stock Yards.
The arena was built for $1.5 million, by the Stock Yard company, principally to host the International Livestock Exhibition. The arena replaced Dexter Park, a horse-racing track that had stood on the site for over 50 years prior to its destruction by fire in May 1934. The completion of the Amphitheatre ushered in an era where Chicago reigned as a convention capital. In an era before air conditioning and space for the press and broadcast media were commonplace, the International Amphitheatre was among the first arenas to be equipped with these innovations.
The arena, which seated 9,000, was the first home of the Chicago Packers of the NBA during 1961–62, before changing their name to the Chicago Zephyrs and moving to the Chicago Coliseum for their second season. It was also the home of the Chicago Bulls during their inaugural season of 1966–67; they also played only one game in the Chicago Coliseum, a playoff game in their first season, as no other arena was available for a game versus the St. Louis Hawks. Afterwards, the Bulls then moved permanently to Chicago Stadium.
The Amphitheatre was also the primary home of the Chicago Cougars of the WHA from 1972–1975. It was originally intended to be only a temporary home for the Cougars, but the permanent solution, the Rosemont Horizon, was not completed until 1980, five years after the team folded and a year after the WHA ceased operation. The International Amphitheatre was the home for Chicago's wrestling scene for years as well as the Chicago Auto Show for approximately 20 years beginning in the 1940s.The Amphitheatre hosted several national American political conventions:
1952 Republican National Convention (nominated Dwight D. Eisenhower for President and Richard M. Nixon for Vice President; ticket won)
1952 Democratic National Convention (nominated Adlai E. Stevenson for President and John J. Sparkman for Vice President; ticket lost)
1956 Democratic National Convention (nominated Adlai E. Stevenson for President and Estes Kefauver for Vice President; ticket lost)
1960 Republican National Convention (nominated Richard M. Nixon for President and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. for Vice President; ticket lost)
1968 Democratic National Convention (nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for President and Edmund S. Muskie for Vice President; ticket lost)The 1952 Republican National Convention had the distinction of being the first political convention broadcast live by television coast to coast, with special studio facilities provided for all the major networks.The 1968 Democratic National Convention was one of the most tumultuous political conventions in American history, noted by anti-war protests.
Prior to that, the Amphitheatre was noted for being the site of one of Elvis Presley's most notable concerts, in 1957, with the singer wearing his now legendary gold lame suit for the first time.On September 5, 1964 and August 12, 1966, The Beatles performed at the Amphitheatre. The 1966 show was the first show of what proved to be their last tour.Indoor wintertime Drag Racing was held at The Amphitheatre twice. On December 30, 1962, and January 5, 1964. It was great fun, but dangerous, because of the slick cement floors. Drag Racers need asphalt to get tire grip, launch, and control. The Amphitheatre cement "floor" had very little of these.
On March 13–14, 1976, the Midwest Regional of the North American Soccer League's 1976 Indoor tournament was hosted by the Chicago Sting at the Amphitheater. The Rochester Lancers won the Region to advance to the Final Four played in Florida.In October 1978, English rock group UFO recorded Strangers in the Night at the International Amphitheatre.
The Stock Yards closed in 1971, but the Amphitheatre remained open, hosting rock concerts, college basketball and IHSA playoff games, circuses, religious gatherings, and other events. The shift of many conventions and trade shows to the more modern and more conveniently-located lakefront McCormick Place convention center during the 1960s and 1970s began the International Amphitheatre's decline; as other convention and concert venues opened in the suburbs, its bookings dropped more.
In December 1981, Joe Frazier had his final boxing match at the Amphitheatre against Floyd Cummings, which resulted in a draw.
Sold in 1983 for a mere $250,000, the sprawling Amphitheatre became difficult to maintain, and proved unable to attract enough large events to pay for its own upkeep. It was eventually sold to promoters Cardenas & Fernandez and then the City of Chicago, which had no more success at attracting events than its previous owner. In August 1999, demolition of the International Amphitheatre began. An Aramark Uniform Services plant is located on the site once occupied by the Amphitheatre.New City, Chicago
New City is one of Chicago's 77 official community areas, located on the southwest side of the city in the South Side district. It contains the neighborhoods of Canaryville and Back of the Yards.
The area was home to the famous Union Stock Yards that were on Chicago's south side until closed in 1971.Sherman Park
Sherman Park is a sixty-acre park in the New City neighborhood of South Side, Chicago.
It was designed by renowned landscape architects John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and celebrated Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. It opened in 1905.
The park's recreational facilities include two gymnasiums, a fitness center, a swimming pool, as well as outdoor space for basketball, tennis, baseball, soccer and football.The park was named for John B. Sherman, Burnham's father-in-law and a founder of Chicago's Union Stock Yards.The park was designed specifically to enrich the immigrant, working class residents of the surrounding neighborhood.South Omaha Terminal Railway
The South Omaha Terminal Railway in Omaha, Nebraska was a subsidiary of the Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha. Until the separate railroad company was created in July 1927, the trackage, about 17 miles (27 km), was owned and operated directly by the Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha. On April 4, 1978, an Interstate Commerce Commission emergency service order was issued at which time the Brandon Corporation took over service.
The Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha needed a separate line to run cattle to and from the Union Pacific Railroad mainline in downtown Omaha. After building the line, in 1904 the Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha was involved in a U.S. Supreme Court case against the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad entitled Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha v. Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The case addressed liability issues after a defective freight car injured a worker.The South Omaha Railway used former CB&Q 0-6-0 steam locomotives. During World War II the railroad applied to purchase 5 diesel locomotives from the American Locomotive Company. The basis of the request was that the steam locomotives were worn out and they needed the diesel locomotives to supply meat to the war effort. The request was approved and 5 S-1 locomotives were purchased.
In later years 1 locomotive sat unused in front of the sand blasting building for Nebraska Railcar in Brandon Corporation paint. The body of this locomotive now resides in a scrapyard in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The other locomotives were sold to a railroad in Kansas where they were further dispersed. 1 locomotive is preserved at the Abilene and Smokey Valley Railroad and another is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum as Nekoosa Paper #14.South Side Elevated Railroad
The South Side Elevated Railroad (originally Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Railroad) was the first elevated rapid transit line in Chicago, Illinois. The line ran from downtown Chicago to Jackson Park, with branches to Englewood, Normal Park, Kenwood, and the Union Stock Yards. The first 3.6 miles (5.8 km) of the line opened on June 6, 1892, and much of its route is still used today as part of the Chicago "L" system.Stock Yards branch (CTA)
The Stock Yards branch was a rapid transit line which was part of the Chicago 'L' system from 1908 to 1957. The branch served the Union Stock Yards and the Canaryville neighborhood of Chicago and consisted of eight elevated stations. It opened on April 8, 1908, and closed on October 6, 1957.Stockyards Exchange
The Stockyards Exchange is a building in South St. Paul, Minnesota, United States, built in 1887 by the recently formed Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha. The building housed businesses associated with the nearby stockyards, which later became the largest stockyards in the United States. It also housed a post office, city offices, and the city's first bank, Stockyards National Bank.The stockyards were organized in 1886 by Alpheus Beede Stickney, who was the president of the Chicago Great Western Railway. The stockyards attracted four major meatpacking plants, including Swift & Company in 1897 and Armour and Company in 1919. During the World War II years, the stockyards operated at their peak. Due to changing market forces and the decentralization of the industry, the stockyards declined during the 1960s and 1970s. Swift closed their plant in 1969, while Armour closed their plant in the 1970s. In 1976, the South St. Paul City Council gave its Housing and Redevelopment Authority permission to buy the building. Colonial Properties bought the build in October 1979, but two months later, vandals caused major damage to the building by flooding it with fire hoses in the attic. The building was later purchased by a private developer, who was unable to raise the money to finish the renovation as scheduled. A couple opened the building in 1998 as the Castle Hotel, but it was only open a year. The building is now able to be reserved for private events.Timothy Blackstone
Timothy Beach Blackstone (March 28, 1829 – May 26, 1900) was a 19th-century railroad executive, businessman, philanthropist, and politician. He is descended from William Blaxton, an early settler of New England. He worked in the railroad industry for most of his life after dropping out of school. At the time of his death, his estate was worth US$6 million ($180.7 million today).
Blackstone served as president of the Chicago and Alton Railroad from 1864 through 1899, was a founding president of the Union Stock Yards, and served one term as mayor of La Salle, Illinois. He was the benefactor of the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford, Connecticut, and his widow donated the Blackstone Memorial Library to the Chicago Public Library in 1902, the first dedicated branch of the Chicago Public Library system. The Blackstones also funded Blackstone Hall for the Art Institute of Chicago Building, and his mansion became the site of the Blackstone Hotel and the Blackstone Theatre.Union Stock Yard Gate
The Union Stock Yard Gate, located on Exchange Avenue at Peoria Street, was the entrance to the famous Union Stock Yards in Chicago. The gate was probably designed by John Wellborn Root of Burnham and Root around 1875, and is the only significant structural element of the stock yards to survive. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1981. The plaza surrounding the gate also includes the city's principal memorial to its firefighters.Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha
The Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha was a 90-year-old company first founded in South Omaha, Nebraska in 1876 by John A. Smiley. After being moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa and dissolved within a year, the company was reorganized and moved to South Omaha in 1883. Six local businessmen responded to a request by Wyoming cattle baron Alexander Swan showing interest in a livestock market closer than the Union Stock Yards in Chicago, Illinois. The Company's Union Stockyards in South Omaha were once a fierce rival of Chicago's Union Stock Yards. The Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha was bought out in 1973.Union Stockyards (Omaha)
The Union Stockyards of Omaha, Nebraska were founded in 1883 in South Omaha by the Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha. A fierce rival of Chicago's Union Stock Yards, the Omaha Union Stockyards were third in the United States for production by 1890. In 1947 they were second to Chicago in the world. Omaha overtook Chicago as the nation's largest livestock market and meat packing industry center in 1955, a title which it held onto until 1971. The 116-year-old institution closed in 1999. The Livestock Exchange Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.Wichita Terminal Association
The Wichita Terminal Association (reporting mark WTA) is a switching and terminal railroad in northern Wichita, Kansas, jointly owned by the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. It handles mainly grain and some scrap steel, serving customers at the former Wichita Union Stock Yards. The tracks were first placed in service in September 1889 by the stockyard and packing companies, and in February 1910 operations were transferred to the new WTA, owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway, Missouri Pacific Railway, and St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad. Through mergers, and the sale of the Rock Island's line to the Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Railroad, the current split between BNSF and UP came about.