LOSS: Rest In Peace Crawford Power Plant (Chi 7 2019 and 2014)

The demolition continues on the Crawford Power Station in Little Village. As it works its way through the environmental remediation needed in each phase of demolition, Hilco Redevelopment Partners is tearing its way through history.

Little Village residents rallied against Hilco’s plans to demolish the historic building and develop a large distribution warehouse on the 70-acre site. The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, led by Kim Wasserman and a remarkable team of organizers and community advocate, did a valiant job to organize and speak up for the Little Village residents who have decades of environmental inequality.

The community fought successfully to close down the former electric-generating, coal-burning power plant, and they wanted to have a course in seeing what had been a symbol of pain and pollution to become a site of hope and renewal through adaptive reuse.

Hilco was unwavering in its plans to demolish the Crawford Power Plant and develop a use that will significantly increase truck traffic throughout the neighborhood – further polluting the air and roadways of Little Village.

While we mourn the loss of this historic plant designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and built in 1926, we need to mobilize quickly to stop Hilco from doing the same destruction at the Fisk Power Plant in Pilsen. It was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the successor firm to H.H. Richardson and the architects of the Chicago Cultural Center. It was built in 1903 by Commonwealth Edison and industrialist Samuel Insull, president of the corporation.

The Fisk Station, among many firsts, was also the home of the world’s largest transformer at the time, built by Westinghouse and installed in 1958, weighing 375,000 pounds. Fisk was also responsible for many years providing direct current-DC to the Chicago Transit Authority substations and rapid transit service.

Later additions to the Fisk Power House complex were designed by Daniel H. Burnham & Company and Shaw, Naess and Murphy. Several structures are “orange-rated” in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. Fisk is situated on the South Branch of the Chicago River.

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