Many Chicagoans are well aware of the rich past of the Chicago School of architecture, especially our glorious early skyscrapers, but far fewer are familiar with the history or importance of the skyscraper’s industrial cousins. Although largely unheralded, the Chicago School’s reach did not stop with downtown high-rises: Throughout the city, the same revolutionary principles of design can be found in our Great Factories and Warehouses.
While these massive industrial buildings may lack the awe-inspiring heights of downtown towers, they are no less important to our city’s history, to the fabric of our neighborhoods, or to Chicago’s visual richness. As the industrial powerhouse of the nation, Chicago companies demanded newer, state-of-the-art buildings that would eventually lead to a new architectural archetype that is indigenous and largely unique to Chicago.
Unfortunately, however, these iconic buildings still remain greatly at risk.
Update:Numerous factories and warehouses that were identified as threatened back in 2005 have since been demolished. Both of the former Washburne Trade School buildings, the former Brach’s Candy Company Building, and the Bunte Brothers Candy Factory, more commonly known as the former Westinghouse High School are all rubble. The Central Manufacturing District buildings remain largely vacant and deteriorating. However, the former Florsheim Shoe Company building has been rehabbed into loft condominiums.