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Fulton Street Wholesale Market
Life Span: 1887-Present (some)
Location: Fulton Street, Between Green and Peoria Streets
Architect: William Strippelman
The Inter-Ocean November 13, 1887
Now that the meat-eating season is at hand when the head of the family, his day’s work done, expects for his 6 o’clock dinner either a fine roast of beef, mutton, veal, or pork, or what is still more palatable and juicy, a nice round of porterhouse or sirloin steak, few people but what will be interested in learning something about how the business is conducted, and whence comes the great supply. Chicago is fortunate in having a wholesale market company organized under the laws of the State. This company has in the past year erected new brick buildings extending one block on each side of Fulton street, from Green to Peoria street. These handsome structures, the ground floors of which are divided off into stalls or apartments numbering some twenty-six in all are located on and adjacent to a network of the leading railway lines entering Chicago so that there is no unreasonable delay in handling consignments. The market, as is shown on the accompanying cuts drawn by our special artist, takes the name of the Fulton Street Wholesale Market Company, and holds, owing to the largely increased facilities for the handling of meats, etc., an important place among the leading business enterprises of Chicago and the great North west. Every dealer at this market is provided with large and commodious cooling rooms, equipped with the latest refrigerating improvements, which provide for the handling of perishable goods with perfect safety—a decided advantage which this market possesses above all others. But to return to the original subject, Chicago’s meat supply. Many persons labor under an impression gained from unreliable sources that very few of the choice beeves slaughtered find their way into the home market, but are dressed and shipped in refrigerator cars to Eastern cities. This is a mistaken idea, and for those who are inclined to believe the statement, a visit to the Fulton Street Market during the early busy morning hours, when the retail butchers are making their selections, would serve to convince any fair-minded person that the quality of meat furnished for home consumption is as good, if not better, than any other city in the country. Said a wholesale meat man to THE INTER OCEAN reporter, doing for the first time the new Fulton Street Market:
Talk about your meat eating and meat loving John Bull, ‘Why, God love ye chile, (using a Southern darky expression), they can’t hold a candle to the average Chicagoan, and it is safe to say that Chicago consumes more meat to the individual than any other city in the world. Nothing very strange about that either when you come to consider the fact that either when you come to consider the fact that this is the great center mart for slaughtering and packing. What operates still more in favor of home consumption is the fact that Chicago people, especially those who keep house, are excellent judges. Should the roasts fail the standard or the steaks prove dry and tough the retail market man would soon hear from his patrons in a way most convincing, or perhaps lose their custom altogether. You see then, how important it is for the wholesale or commission merchant to meet in every particular the demands of the retailer.
The Fulton Street Wholesale Market as now conducted is a model one throughout. The company have erected substantial brick buildings, the basements of which are amply provided with boiler and steam attachments. The upper floors are well suited for almost any kind of manufacturing. The dimensions of each room are 80×252 feet, with high ceilings and plenty of natural light, strong girders, and as before stated, centrally located as to the leading railroad and shipping centers.
Chicago Tribune, November 13, 1887
One of the most important business changes that have taken place in Chicago for many a day has just occurred in the removal of the wholesales butchers’ market from Jackson street, where it has been located for the past fourteen years, to Fulton street, between Green and Peoria streets. The traffic of supplying the retail butchers of the city with fresh meats has grown during the occupancy of the Jackson street market place, amounting at the present time to tens of thousands of dollars daily, and a change on account of inadequacy to handle the business has been an imminent question for the past two years. The discussion has crystalized in two rows of fine modern buildings reaching from Green to Peoria street, with their facades on Fulton street, and placed there at a cost of over $250,000. The new market is constructed if pressed brick, with terra-cotta ornamentation, whereon are animal devices emblematic of the trade. Externally the buildings are very attractive in design, but to the investigator it is apparent the best thoughts have been given to the internal economy of the marketing place, where all the latest modern conveniences have been adopted for the preservation and handling of the meats with neatness and expedition. The various stores are provided with refrigerators large enough to accommodate the large, increasing trade. It is worthy of mention, as a matter of good taste, that the twenty-two firms who have taken possession of the new premises have had their signs made uniform in all respects, which adds to rather than interferes with the architectural effects, which would otherwise have been the case. The names of the twenty-two firms are:
MILLER & ARMOUR,
BRITTEN & GUTH,
BAUER & SWEENEY,
CHAS. A. DANZ,
M. R. LEYDEN,
O’MALLEY & CO.,
P. NOONAN & CO.,
W. J. MURPHY,
ROGERS & FLYNN,
J. J. HUNTER & CO.,
WEBER & FRENCH,
A. C. LAUTENSCHLAGER,
GUCKENHEIMER & CO.,
It may be safely alleged that the wholesale butchers have added another lion to the collection which will be seen by the “sight seers” who come to take in the business markets of Chicago.
In relation to this change of base by the wholesale butchers, it is in keeping to say that the new market place is known as “The Fulton Wholesale Market Company,” and was built by an incorporated joint stock company under the title of “The Fulton Street Wholesale Market Company.” The company owns the realty of the premises as well as the buildings. The officers-elect are:
Thomas Armour, President; Philipp Jaeger, Vice President; Charles A. Danz, Secretary; Petey Britten, Treasurer. The Board of Directors consists of Henry Guth, John Powell, Alex J. Sweeney, Peter Britten, Michael Bauer, Isaac Hess, Thomas Armour, C. Quinlan, Charles A. Danz, William J. O’Malley, and Philipp Jaeger.
Fulton Street Market
Inter Ocean, February 21, 1892
COMERS AND GOERS.
One misty, moist morning last week, when there wasn’t rain enough to warrant the carrying of an umbrella, but a trifle too much to go without one, a reporter “sloshing” around the West Division, jammed into a crowd of people remarkable alike for obesity and good nature, in a neighborhood where the streets are thronged with vehicles flying in all directions. The latter mostly are butchers’ wagons, carrying enormous loads of meat. At first glance the mass of trains and wagons appear hopelessly wedged together, but somehow they manage to get in and out again. On either side of the street stone fronts present solid rows of dressed animals, and the sidewalks too are filled with dressed animals, but these are very much alive and out for bargains. There is a great deal of noise and an appearance of confusion on all sides: the clinking sound of money is heard above that of grinding wheels, portly men and fat boys are busily engaged in “yanking” dressed beeves from long rows of hooks, shouldering and carrying them to vehicles, and the air is filed with flying chunks of fresh meat, till the bewildering tumult is enough to make one lose his head. This is the great emporium for meat of all kinds in Chicago—Fulton Wholesale Market.
“Where is Fulton market?” was the question afterward put to something like a score of city residents, and the answer was: “I don’t know.”
For the benefit of the public it may not be amiss to state that Fulton’s wholesale market is located in the West division, on Fulton street, whence its title, between Green and Peopria streets, only a short ways west of North Halsted street. It is a collection of thirty or forty extensive wholesale commission houses, receiving consignments and handling all kinds of meat, including straight beef, hogs, calves, veal, pork, lard, pickled and smoked meats, Bolognas, and Frankfort sausages, poultry and game, hides, pelts, and tallow. Some of the firms fo a general canning and preserving business, and others carry stocks of butchers’ supplies. Within the trade this market is famous as headquarters for nien, whose annual commission business runs up into the tens of thousands of dollars.
This fine market sprang into existence several years ago at a time when the commission men were driven from their stands on West Jackson street. A public improvement in the form of an approach to what then was a new bridge got between them and daylight, and notwithstanding some of the firms remained there and continue holding a big trade, a majority sought facilities elsewhere.
Carload lots of meat and poultry are daily shipped to Fulton market from points within a territory embraced by the States of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri. The business of many of the firms includes numerous branches, their dressed beef and hogs, and beef and hog products being shipped throughout the United States and to England. Proprietors of hotels and restaurants, caterers and vesselmen, and others interested in buying large quantities of meat seek Fulton market. Undoubtedly Chicago’s geographical position has greatly favored the growth of this as well as other industries, but it must be acknowledged that the progressiveness and activity of the commission men themselves have contributed thereto in a high degree.
Sketches of the wonderful market space where meat is so plentiful that it looks as though it ought to be cheap, and where the butcher boys with their wagons hold undisputed sway, shows how they handle stuff in Chicago’s greatest meat market. The large picture is a view of one side of the street only, but as both sides for the entire length of the long market are precisely alike, one suffices to convey an idea of its magnitude.
Another point of interest on the West Side is the well known Haymarket Square; once the scene of violence and bloodshed, where bombs were hurled to kill. The most dangerous articles being hurled there now are cabbages and pumpkins, with an occasional sprinkling of choice billingsgate. On either side the long space is lined with stores and shops engaged in many different kinds of traffic, such as are occasionally found in similar places elsewhere. It is strictly a public market for farmers and truckmen bringing their loads to town, and during the busy morning hours here is to be found one of the liveliest sights in the city. No pattern of conveyance, no specimen of humanity, nore horse flesh exists for which a counterpart can not be found in Haymarket Square. All Europe as well as America has been turned loose to lend variety and picturesqueness to its garbs and dialects. and assuredly the plains of Tartary, the Mexican plateaus and Tattersalls each have shared in rendering the equinal exhibition something at once fearfukl and wonderful. A striking contrast between the lavishness of prosperity, and the exigencies of absolute indigence was seen when one of Swift’s large, hansomely finished wagons, painted in thundering tones of red, and hauled by four coal black horses covered with expensive harness, drove in alongside one of those rare ramshacklin layouts, tied together with strings, and barely able to support its own weight.
Truck gardens, situated twelve to eighteen miles from the city limits, contribute their varied products to swell the traffic in Haymarket Square, toillsome all night journeys in many instances being required to haul the many loads to their destination in time for the early trade. Wagons heaped to overflowing in the market square shortly after midnight. Their teams unhitched and their marketing left in charges of a half-griown boy, the drivers report to neighboring bar-rooms and coffee houses, where stories are told, views on important political issues evolved, and caddies of sagest wisdom are delivered for the public good, till the crowing of cooped-up cocks announce the arrival of another period of business activity. The shadows within basements and creaky stairways are being dispelled by the dawning light when the men and boys who have braved prairie sludge and missmatic dews in order to be early on the ground, begin to rub their sleepy eyes, don shaggy overcoats, pull woolen caps down over their ears, and sally forth to meet the enterprising grocery men from all parts of town. A considerable member of the bucolic vendors enter the city by way of Lake street, Ogden and Blue Island avenues, the earliest of the matin sounds along those thoroughfares being the rattling and lumbering of their conveyances.
On the market one would hardly expect to find such an indulgence as that of love-making, but an edifying colloquy overheard there proves that opportunities for that sort of business abound equally with the more remunerative one of selling caqrrots and onions.
It was at the east end, near the monument, that a diminutive wagon seat was being pressed out of shape by a happy couple with Naperville complexions, who were doing the sugar act for all it was worth. Happy? Why, nestling birds and romping kittens aren’t in it at all. Said she, with a low, sweet giggle;
“Pears, like as if that policeman must be gettin’ tired standin’ there so long. I mean that ‘ere statoot, Rube.”
“That’s what, Molly,” her companion, with an equally low, sweet giggle.
“Looks kinder lonesome like, Rube.”
“Terrible thing, this ‘ere lonesomeness?”
“I git that way sometimes; don’t youse?”
“I does, for a fact.”
“Well, why don’t youse put an end to yer suffering?”
“Git out! I ain’t ready yit.”
“When be youse goin’ to git that way, Rube?”
“What way, Molly?”
“I kinder thought,” answered the swain, as a wave of serio comic meditation swept across his face, “that when I sell that air yearling calf an’ a 2-year-old colt, an’ git what’s comin’ to me from ther ole man, an’ pays my debts, an’ trades for a piece of ground, an’ if ther ole woman’s willin, an’ the neighbors is willin’, I’d begin to think about gittin’ ready,”
Last summer a jovial, though somewhat impecunious, Swede from somewhere near the village of Summit, being without a vehicle and desiring to fetch in some produce, utilized an old mowing-machine for the purpose. It seems that he used it to attend a funeral Sunday previous, thus proving its adaptability to his needs. He went slashing around the market with his old machine, at the risk of cutting everything to pieces, when an officer started to arrest him. Hans saw the copper approaching, and giving the whip to his horses, ran away. In his precipitous flight, he cut off the legs of several chickens, came near killing a boy, and finally ran smack into a sidewalk sign, where he got fastened till the officers came up and advised him to take that accoutrement of war back to the undulating slopes of the Desplaines river.
Haymarket Square during normal business hours in 1890