20 Years Later, Burger Backers Get Their Revenge in West Town

The former Harpo Studios building in West Town.

The former Harpo Studios building in West Town.

Remember in 1996 when Oprah Winfrey told the world that concerns about disease, “stopped me cold from eating another hamburger?”  Beef prices plunged to a ten-year low, and cattle ranchers sued.  Oprah won the lawsuit on free speech grounds, but 20 years later, who’s having the last laugh?  Perhaps it’s the cattlemen, after all.

That’s because the very building from which the queen of daytime gab put beef shivers through millions of followers is going to be torn down to make way for the new corporate headquarters of McDonald’s, the company that epitomizes commodity beef consumption.

Soil sampling truck at Harpo Studios

Soil sampling truck at Harpo Studios (Courtesy of Building Up Chicago)

Crain’s Chicago Business broke the story early this morning, and within hours, Building Up Chicago caught soil sampling trucks in the parking lot of the former Harpo Studios building at 1058 West Washington Street rooting around to see what’s underneath. If you’ve followed this blog for any time at all, you know that’s the first concrete sign that a new building is coming.

Which is exactly what Crain’s reported — The new building will be an office building by — surprise! — Sterling Bay.  You can’t swing a craft beer without hitting a past, current, or future Sterling Bay project in the east of West Town.

Even more interestingly, is that prodigal son McDonald’s is expected to occupy the building, coming back to downtown Chicago 45 years after it sought greener pastures in Oak Park Brook Forest Burg.   If there are any meat packers left in Chicago’s meat packing district, they couldn’t ask for a better neighbor.


Author: Editor

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

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