Directions

To site 12 
Turn left (south) on Avenue O and drive to 116th Street. Turn right to view sculpture at entrance to mill. 

Aerial View of Republic Steel c. 1951
12) Republic Steel (along the east bank of the Calumet River 110th Street to 122nd Street)

Republic Steel began as an outgrowth of the Chicago Tack Co., and was built in 1876 in an area known as Grand Crossing. In 1901 they acquired a site at 118th Street and the Calumet River. This was where the first unit of two 50-ton open hearth furnaces, and a 35-inch blooming mill were started. At the start of World War II, a completely integrated electric furnace, coke ovens, blooming and rolling mills were built on the site for the government and operated by Republic Steel. Following the war the company purchased the operation from the Defense Department. Employment at Republic peaked at 6,335 in 1970. In 1977, two 225-ton Q-Bop (Quelle Basic oxygen process) furnaces replaced four World War II vintage open hearths. This ended the making of steel by open hearths for Republic Steel. During the 1980's, the Chicago District Plant was the third largest plant of Republic's six districts. In December 1981, America's most energy efficient, environmentally advanced coke battery began operation. Sixty, six meter high coke ovens replaced 75, four-meter ovens which had operated since 1943. In 1984, Republic Steel was merged with J&L Steel to form LTV steel, a wholly owned subsidiary of the LTV Corporation, a Dallas based conglomerate which is also involved in energy, aerospace, and defense.


Republic Steel: Avenue O at Right /  Calumet River at Left

The chemistry students at Washington High school conducted water and soil tests at the site in the spring of 1999. The students were trying to determine if the land was viable for residential, commercial, or futher industrial use. Samples were collected on different days from different locations in the vicinity of 117th and Avenue O. These were taken to the lab where tests were conducted for various chemicals such as lead, iron, magnesium, phospahte, sulfate, soil organisms and bacteria. Most of test results showed very low levels of these minerals. This is desirable for lead but not desireable in terms of the other minerals for growing plants . The pH level of the soil was slightly basic which might have to be adjusted to grow plants and a water sample taken from some standing water on the site showed a high level of bacteria. Owl pellets were found near a large tree on the site and a hawk was seen in the vicinity of the tree on several occasions. Evidence of nature reclaiming the area was apparent as seen by the growth of vegetation on gravel and trees sprouting up through tiny cracks in old foundations.

12) Sculpture and Plaque (116th Street between Avenue O and Green Bay Avenue)
 

Republic Steel Sculpture

Memorial Day Massacre Plaque

The monument at the entrance to the Chicago District plant was dedicated to Republic Steel's employees and area residents. Six long bars symbolize Republic's six steel districts, the four short bars mark the cardinal compass points from the plant to the community, and the spiral bar signifies the bond between Republic and its neighbors. Many mistakenly call this the Memorial Day Massacre Memorial. The actual commemorative plaque is in the parking lot of Memorial Hall. That plaque lists the names of the ten people who lost their lives in the massacre.

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