THREATENED: Southwest Side Industrial Buildings – Fisk Power Station – 2023 Most Endangered

Fisk Power Station, a 2023 Chicago 7 Most Endangered. 1903, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, 1111 W. Cermak Road. Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky
Fisk Power Station, a 2023 Chicago 7 Most Endangered. 1903, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, 1111 W. Cermak Road. Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky

Fisk Power Station, a 2023 Chicago 7 Most Endangered. 1903, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, 1111 W. Cermak Road. Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

The enormous Fisk electrical-generating station dates from 1903. Designed by architects Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, it achieved the previously impossible task of employing technology to create the world’s largest coal-fired electrical generators, based around the steam engine turbine. These systems redeveloped and refined the mammoth production of electricity for a rapidly growing city at a magnitude never before seen. Fisk became the model that was copied and replicated around the world.

Now closed, Fisk stands as an important reminder of Chicago’s industrial heritage and is an important architectural asset that should be repurposed. The Tate Modern is a world-class art museum repurposed from a shuttered London power plant that has become one of the largest tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. A repurposed and revisioned Fisk Power Station could become a huge asset as a cultural and community center to the Pilsen, Chinatown, Near-Southwest side and Central Area residents.

With the recent demolition of Crawford, Fisk Power Station remains the last large-scale survivor of Chicago’s power generation history reflecting the growth of the city into an industrial powerhouse. Additionally, the historic buildings only cover a small portion of the approximately 50-acre riverfront site, which would allow amble space for green space and new community-oriented development. It is currently owned by the same group is responsible for the demolition of Crawford power station.

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