Tool maker, stacker of wheat,
Player with railroads and the nation's freight handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the big shoulders.
Carl Sandburg, "Chicago."
One thoroughly enjoying thing about urban exploration is that sometimes you find something when you were looking for something else. That's what happened on Chicago's Southwest Side while I was on my way to the crumbling Central Manufacturing District. From the Stevenson Expressway near Damen I saw two grain silos tagged with graffiti. What I learned in Detroit is that unchecked graffiti means an urban ruin is calling me.
And I answered the call.
The silos were built in 1906 and they replaced others that were destroyed in a deadly explosion the year prior. Those silos were built after an 1832 fire destroyed grain elevators that were presumably wooden.
The Damen Silos--that's not their official name--sit at 2900 South Damen and they sit at a strategic location. The South Branch of the Chicago River bends south nearby and the first European to spend the winter in Chicago camped nearby.
North of the canal at 2700 S. Damen is the ignored and tired Marquette Monument.
The of the view of the silos from near that monument
The view looking east from the Damen bridge over the canal. In the distance is the shuttered Fisk Power Plant, which was a coal-burning facility.
We're back on the south bank of the canal. What was this building? I dunno. But the metal frames have endured.
That's a former warehouse for the silos.
Who owns the Damen Silos and this warehouse? The state of Illinois. In 1977 there was another explosion at this site and the silos closed. Eventually the the land fell into the hands of the state who has clearly done a horrible job managing it. Of course the results are, well, intriguing enough, which is why I visited. The property isn't secured--you can drive right in. When I was here on Sunday there were a dozen other urban explorers here. The silos are possible the premier urban ruins in Chicago--and to think a chance glance from expressway brought me here...
Four years ago the state failed to sell the land for $11 million. Considering the disastrous fiscal state of Illinois--perhaps it should sell it to a qualified buyer for much less and ease the burden of taxpayers such as myself.
Well, I can only dream.
Inside you find the usual squalor but some sharp graffiti.
Through the window is St. Paul Catholic Church.
If you look closely you'll see another urban explorer.
Love? Yes, I love everyone!
A final look at the warehouse. Oh, there are many cut limestone blocks on this site. Why? I dunno either.
It was a great photography day.
Between the two structures you can see the Sears Tower. The silos on the right were tagged by boogr. I'm sure his parents are proud of him.
Yes there is graffiti inside the silos.
The Monopoly Banker holds a cup out. Or is that someone from the Illinois treasurer's office asking for a handout?
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