The old “Bull’s Head” stock-yards, situated at the corner of Madison Street and Ogden Avenue, were opened in 1848, and gave to Chicago its first regular cattle market. In 1854, the Michigan Southern Railway opened stockyards upon the Ulrich property, at the corner of State and Twenty-second streets, which were placed under the management of Thomas Nicholes. Mr. Nicholes was superseded in 1862 by Ira Smith & Co., who continued in the management until the close of the yards in the spring of 1866. John B. Sherman made what was, up to 1856, the boldest venture in this direction in opening the Myrick yards on Cottage Grove Avenue, with a capacity for five thousand cattle and thirty thousand hogs. The Michigan Central and Illinois Central railways had switches running into these yards. The Fort Wayne yards, at the corner of Stewart Avenue and Mitchell Street, and the Cottage Grove yards of C. F. Loomis & Co., were small and inadequate, and never came into much prominence, although the latter was the principal yard here during the War.
The site chosen for the location of the Yards was at Halsted Street, in the Town of Lake, and three hundred and twenty acres, being the north half of Section 5, Township 38 N .. Range 14 E., were purchased from Hon. John Wentworth, the price being $100,000. This land was considered an almost valueless marsh, impossible to be drained. Work was commenced on June 1,1865, and by Christmas of that year the yards were thrown open for business. The yards were laid out as a rectangular figure, with streets and alleys crossing one another
at right angles. About one hundred and twenty acres were covered with pens when the yards were opened, and the growth of the enterprise since has necessitated additions from time to time, making the present acreage of the pens two hundred and eighty. They are of various sizes, some being of the capacity of one car-load and others of the capacity of ten car-loads. In the early history of the yards, one’ thousand two hundred cattle-pens and one thousand hog and sheep-pens were sufficient for the accommodation of stock, while to-day two thousand six hundred of the former and one thousand six hundred of the latter barely satisfy the demands made upon their capacity. The pens were all originally planked, and only a few have since been paved with stone.
About thirty miles of alleys and streets, some macadamized and others laid with gravel and cinders, connect these pens with the loading and unloading chutes of the railroads. Thirty-five thousand cattle, two hundred thousand hogs, ten thousana. sheep and fifteen hundred horses may find quarters at the yards.
The Union Stockyards
National Live Stock Bank of Chicago, 1888.
Stockyards National Bank, 1924.
Halsted Street and Exchange Avenue
The Stockyard Exchange as it appeared around 1900
The Stockyards as they appeared in 1910