One For The Road: The Closing Of The Union Stock Yards
By Samantha Abernethy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 1, 2012 10:40PM
On this date in 1971, Chicago's Union Stock Yards closed. The massive meat market to the world first opened on Christmas Day 1865, operating for nearly 106 years before technology took business elsewhere. At the turn of the century, the Stock Yards employed 25,000 people and produced 82 percent of the meat consumed in the U.S.
Fifteen miles of track delivered livestock directly to the stockyards from the city's main rail lines. Five hundred thousand gallons of fresh water were pumped daily from the Chicago River into the yards, and waste drained into a fork of the river that would be dubbed "Bubbly Creek" due to the contamination. Drovers herded cattle, hogs, and sheep down two wide thoroughfares from the railroad cars to the pens. By 1900, the stockyard grew to 475 acres, contained 50 miles of road, and had 130 miles of track along its perimeter.
Read more about the history of the Union Stock Yards on the Chicago History Museum's website, and watch the video below. But if you really want to know all of the gory details of life in the the Union Stock Yards, read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.