Chicago’s Meat Packing District

We’ve published several photos from Chicago’s meat packing district in the last few weeks.  It’s one of those places that most people assume exists, but few have actually been to.

Does Chicago’s meat packing district actually pack meat?  The answer is an unqualified “yes.”  And not just meat.  There’s a chicken nugget factory and a few places that pack seafood.

But it’s clear from a recent tour of the area that it’s not what it once was.  It seemed like about half of the spaces that were once slaughterhouses and cold storage facilities are now art galleries, pricey restaurants, and soft lofts.

My late father was tangentially involved in the meat packing industry and as a child I would occasionally spend time in New York’s meat packing district.  Wandering the streets of Chicago’s version, I felt right at home, once again dodging the fork lifts and listening to the chatter of men with large knives and long white coats.

Getting to Chicago’s meat packing district by public transportation isn’t convenient, but it’s worth the trouble.  For a quickie self-guided tour, head to the intersection of West Fulton Street and North Halsted Street and start walking west.  Keep an eye open for a working class pub and have lunch.  Then wander around a little and head back toward the Loop.  It’s a good way to spend an afternoon seeing something new in your own backyard.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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