The Central Manufacturing District was the first planned manufacturing district in the United States. Prior to 1908, the territory now so widely known as the Central Manufacturing District of Chicago was largely barren prairie.
Down at 35th Street, on the South Branch of the Chicago River, are three hundred acres of ground which have had a somewhat remarkable history. After the Chicago Fire, this land, which at that time was located on the then outskirts of the city, began to gain notoriety as the “Cabbage Patch” of Chicago. Here were scenes of rustic beauty! In the sun and rain of many summers, the fields waved green with majestic cabbage leaves, and each Fall brought a bountiful harvest for the thrifty citizens who had planted, cultivated, and harvested, that the ancestors of Mrs. Wiggs and Mr. Dooley (of “Archey Road”) might thrive. For, let it be known, our forefathers fed freely upon cabbages. From these succulent vegetables, the pioneers who built up the wonderful West drew vigor of arm and strong constitutions. For over a decade, cabbages reigned supreme, and never were such cabbages as from the old “Cabbage Patch.”
In the development of the Union Stock Yards to the south of the “Cabbage Patch,” the Chicago Junction Railway Company, (the railroad serving the stock yards and packing houses,) had perfected its facilities for handling the greatest live-stock business in the world; it had secured direct connection with every railroad entering Chicago; it had constructed enormous freight yards; it had built a Union Freight Station for handling freight to all roads; it had purchased many new, modern locomotives, and it had found its capacity for handling business far in excess of the traffic offered — great though that traffic was. It was therefore
proper that the Chicago Junction should seek new tonnage.
When lumber came to the ” Cabbage Patch, ” transportation by water had been supplemented by facilities for transportation by rail. Light iron rails, wood-burning engines, and toy cars had been the equipment. Now the Chicago Junction Railway, in its quest for new business, expanded across the river and began operating the “Cabbage Patch” hues. For a time this was well, but decreasing lumber tonnage emphasized the necessity for securing other industrial products to transport. Then began the real transition of the “Cabbage Patch.”
Location of the Central Manufacturing District
The larger portion of the Central Manufacturing District is located between 35th and 39th Streets, extending from Morgan Street on the east to Ashland Avenue on the west, while on 43rd Street, near Robey, is still another section of the District. Through the center of the District run the south and west forks of the South Branch of the Chicago River. South of 39th Street and extending east from Western Avenue to Ashland and beyond, is another tract of about 100 acres, also served by the Chicago Junction Railway, which will soon be the site of important commercial development along lines which have characterized the growth of the Central Manufacturing District. This property is wonderfully located for industrial expansion and with the working out of comprehensive plans for this new territory adjacent to the present Central Manufacturing District, will come the realization of dreams approaching the ideal in industrial property. This will give a total acreage in the Central Manufacturing District of around 400 acres.
Thirty-fifth Street crosses the river between Racine (Center) Avenue and Iron Street and at that point is the geographical center of the City of Chicago — fourteen miles from the North city limits and fourteen miles from the South city limits, — Chicago being twenty-eight miles long. At 35th Street, Chicago is approximately seven miles wide, the Central Manufacturing District being located about half-way between the Lake and the western city limits. The District is only about four miles from the City Hall.
Center of Population
Recent census statistics show that forty-seven percent (47%) of Chicago’s population resides on the South Side. The growth of the city has been, and is likely to be, south and west; therefore, the natural location for industries serving the city’s needs is at a point central and convenient to the area of the city’s greatest consuming density. Such a point is the Central Manufacturing District.
The Central Manufacturing District is only about fifteen minutes ride from the City Hall by automobile. The District can be reached by splendid street car transportation in about thirty minutes from the down-town section, without transfer. By elevated railroad, it is possible to reach the District from all parts of the city and suburbs by transferring to the cross-town line at 35th Street. Splendid roads lead from the District in all directions, making it possible to team freight to all portions of the city at a minimum expense, and without passing through the congested down-town section. Actual experiments made by tenants in the District have shown a saving in time in city deliveries as compared with their previous locations within the loop. Many firms having very large city trade have found it convenient and economical to deliver by team and automobile from the District to all sections of the city.