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Video: Watch The West Loop's Harpo Studios Turn To Rubble

By Stephen Gossett in News on Aug 16, 2016 7:13PM

A pair of videos capture the latest leg of demolition as Oprah Winfrey’s iconic Harpo Studios is leveled in the West Loop. The site is the future home of McDonald’s corporate headquarters—and more, if neighborhood activists get their wish. But on Monday and Tuesday crews were filmed still razing Oprah’s erstwhile home base.

The man who shot the videos, West Loop resident Moshe Tamssot, remembers the old studios as a key facilitator of neighborhood growth.

“It was the old West Loop,” he told Chicagoist. “It was one of the catalysts that changed the area. It employed a lot of people and put the West Loop on the map. There was no reason to come here other than gawk at the studio. It got people to come stand in line in the winter, just to stand in front of the ‘O.’ That spurred so much.”

The storied history of the building extends back even further: It was used in 1915 as a temporary morgue during the Eastland disaster.

As for the future of the site, Tamssot would like to see a bridge extended between old West Loop food pioneers and new West Loop development. He and others have proposed a project that would make the first floor of the future McDonald’s building a home for local wholesale produce and meat purveyors and incubator for food-focused startups. He mentioned involving Dan Salls, the local food truck innovator whose Garage Restaurant was recently pushed from the neighborhood amid rising rents. (Interested parties can contact Tamssot here.)

Whatever the end result, Tamssot's videos could be taken to represent the end of an era, not just for Harpo, but perhaps for the West Loop as a whole.

And here's a photo of the building from 1915: