Little more than scrub brush grows where hot coke used to get doused before being sent into the blast furnaces, but that’s not what I went there to see. Outside Chicago’s most remote ghettoes are the ruins of ACME Coke, now two smokestacks, two three towers and a pile of firebrick. Check out what it used to be.
In economics, one hand doesn’t wash the other; it chops the other right off. Local politics collides with global economics, draining this mega-factory of its profitability. Doors close, and a middle-class neighborhood built on chocolate confections suddenly gets much leaner.
This building seemed a bit too eager to murder me, but it was too late to turn back. Built with inadequate materials, due to WWI material shortages, and built in a hurry, due to its sister plant burning to the ground, every day this building still stands flouts time, nature, and gravity.
Behind a museum of industry is a monument of another kind, a hospital built for railroad workers injured on the job. Later it became an important community health center, but a financial scandal eventually closed its doors.
If there was something I didn’t think I needed more of in my life, it was grain elevators. After growing up a midwest explorer in a place with the nickname ‘Mill City’, I was tired of these concrete towers; I thought I had seen it all. Santa Fe taught me exactly how wrong I was. Climb with me 120 feet above Chicago and see why…