Horween and Ashland Leather Remain Constant in the New Lincoln Yards Neighborhood

Horween and Ashland Leather Remain Constant in the New Lincoln Yards Neighborhood


To be very clear: Horween is not closing

Once lined with hundreds of tanneries, Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood is now the mainstay of just one-- the only one still standing: Horween Leather. Around the end of the 19th century, the Chicago River and the city's iconic railway system made the near north side of Chicago an ideal location for tanneries. Roughly eight miles away were Chicago's Union Stock Yards (immortalized by Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle") and for nearly every steer slaughtered, the abattoirs yielded another hide (a by-product of the meatpacking industry.) Chicago's tanneries were more than happy to swoop in and pay for the privilege to relieve "The Yards" of this commodity.

Horween and Ashland Leather location in Lincoln Yards Neighborhood
The meat industry employed nearly one-fifth of the population of Chicago, and in 1880, was the lifeblood of over 240 tanneries. But by 1971, all meatpacking had ceased in Chicago, and 47 years later, the remains of the stockyards now serve as a decaying skeleton for entire city blocks of trainyards, acres of barren concrete, and thousands of semi trailers. 25,000 stockyard employees sought new work over the years and all but one of those 240 tanneries eventually closed their doors.

Real estate developer, Sterling Bay, has just publicly announced plans of a new vision for 70 acres of riverfront property between Bucktown and Lincoln Park: Lincoln Yards.  This new neighborhood would encompass the entire area just east of the river and some of the area west of the river occupied by both Horween Leather and Ashland Leather. Since Horween Leather has stood as a foundation of the neighborhood for over 100 years (and plans to for at least 100 more), I thought it might be important to document how the neighborhood looks before the planned changes begin, for posterity.

Lincoln Yards Banner

Graffiti near Horween Leather

Hebru art graffiti at Horween Leather

Graffiti on Horween Leather building

Empty space in Lincoln Yards. This once was Finkle

Monument for Finkle Foundry in Lincoln Yards

View of Chicago River from Courtland Bridge

Ozinga Cement Factory

Ozinga Cement Truck

View of Ozinga Cement Yard

Behind the Horween Leather tannery

Horween Leather tannery windows


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Horween and Ashland MUST remain to serve as reminders of Carl Sandburg’a vision of Chicago! And “The Jungle!” Big and small business is the foundation of Chicago’s culture!

David Lacy

What’s the music in the background?
Cool stuff.


How much longer for these constants? As real estate values go up, how much longer before Horween’s property becomes too valuable to manufacture on? And then what will become of Horween and Ashland?

Calvin Brown Jr

The area looks so different than when my wife and I visited a little less than 4 years ago. Quite a bit of the old buildings have been torn down on the east side of the river to make way for new development.

Rick Keeney

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