International Harvester McCormick Reaper Works


This was the site of the McCormick Reaper Works (1873), and the International Harvester Plant (1902-1969). It is now home to an industrial and office park, developed by the Pyramidwest Development Corporation. The McCormick plant was at the center of the struggle for the eight-hour day that led to the Haymarket Massacre on May 4, 1886. In addition, in 1952, the recently merged Farm Equipment Workers and United Electrical Workers unions shut down the plant when International Harvester began to close the McCormick Works Twine Mill. The 1952 strike grew into a crucial battle in International Harvester's effort to oust the more radical FE-UE Union, and replace it with the more moderate United Auto Workers Union. The accompanying photographs show striking workers at the McCormick Works in 1952, and the factory as it looked in 1908.

Labor Trail

FE-UE Striking Workers, 1952 -- Chicago History Museum - DN-O-8267

Chicago History Museum, DN-0006794

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at:

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer