Back of the Yards Neighborhood Tour


During the century between the Civil War and the 1960s, the Union Stock Yards (1864) was one of the most important employers in the city, with over 40,000 workers at their peak. The larger Stock Yard district includes the neighborhoods of Bridgeport, Canaryville, and McKinley Park. The working class neighborhood just to the west and south of the yards attracted German, Irish, Lithuanian, Polish, African-American, and Mexican immigrants. In 1906, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, his famous muckraking novel, about this area. From 1919 to 1921, the Stockyards Labor Council (SLC) led a series of strikes for the right to unionize. Although these strikes failed, during the Depression the CIO's Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee largely succeeded. The area was also a center of Progressive Era reform, exemplified by Mary McDowell and the University of Chicago Settlement House. In addition, Saul Alinsky's Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council was a forerunner to later community organizing efforts throughout the U.S.

Important Sites in the Back of the Yards include:

*Davis Square Park
*BO Packing Co.
*Chicago Stockyards Gate
*Chicago Commons Association New City Child Care Center
*St. Joseph Catholic Church
*Columbia Hall
*Sikoras Hall
*St. Rose of Lima Church
*Local Mural
*St. Augustine Catholic Church
*St. John of God Church




W 47th St & S Racine Ave

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