RADIO: What’s That Building? The Stock Yards Bank on WBEZ Chicago

“The gigantic Stock Yards Bank & Trust building in Canaryville is one of the few visible remnants of the city’s once-booming meatpacking industry.

“Built in 1924, the building is a tribute to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were adopted. But while Independence Hall is a thriving tourist site, the Stock Yards Bank building has been empty for more than 20 years.

“The colonial-style building (and neighboring Stock Yards Inn) formed a handsome architectural entrance to the vast, dirty yards. These buildings —– along with the yards’ muscular limestone gates — helped portray the old stockyards as more than the bloody pens and killing floors Upton Sinclair wrote about in his 1906 book The Jungle. In reality, the yards were a huge commercial center that generated wealth across the country.

“The bank moved out in 1965, the stockyards closed in 1971 and today the empty main floor is lined with piles of terra cotta fragments that were removed from the façade.

“The city has been trying to sell the building for two decades, but the vast, open layout is a challenge. Some of the ideas that had been floated for the building include turning the former bank into a steakhouse, gym, new bank, green energy facility, museum and even an urban camping area.

“WBEZ took a tour of the building with Chicago planning official Bob Wolf. Here’s a look inside.” (Rodkin, 1/10/20)

Preservation Chicago has been seeking a new owner for the Stock Yards Bank building, a Designated Chicago Landmark, for many years. More recently, Preservation Chicago had encouraged Vienna Beef to convert the building into their new headquarters and museum, but interest waned after months of repeated and unsuccessful requests that the City of Chicago pump the water out of the basement to allow a full building inspection.

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