U.S. Steel South Works
Aerial View U.S. Steel and the Bush
The U.S. Steel
Company played a significant role in the lives of the people of South Chicago,
while it was in operation. The community's economy evolved because
of it, and revolved around it. Bringing so many people to the area,
and providing so many jobs it populated the community. The arrival
of the U.S. Steel Company greatly changed South Chicago, and contributed
so much to its history.
In 1857, the
North Chicago Rolling Mill was opened. It was built on the north
side of the city of Chicago but moved to the southeast side because of
the many advantages the location offered. The lake gave them shipping
routes by which materials like iron ore, coke, and limestone could be sent.
Lake Michigan and Lake Calumet offered fresh water. Also, there were
many skilled workers in the area providing it with a labor force.
The steel plant started
out as North Chicago Rolling Mill, but as time went on it went through
various name changes as it merged with other companies. In 1889,
it merged with Union Steel, Joliet Steel, and the Bayview plant of Milwaukee
Steel to form Illinois Steel. Afterwards, it beacame part of Federal
Steel. Eventually, it became United States Steel South Works in 1901.
The steel mill created
a whole new community, in which it played a large role in the people's
lives. It brought thousands of people to the area since it offered
so many jobs. People of different ethnic backgrounds came to live
in the area because of it. They all wanted to live close to where
they worked. At one time it supported different sport leagues.
They had a softball league of 63 teams, a bowling league of 90 teams, and
a golf league of 50 foursomes.
As time passed, the steel mills were thriving in the country.
In 1917, the country's steel production was up to 45,060,607 tons.
The U.S. Steel Company also continued to thrive. It eventually came
to employ about 20,000 people. It also began to expand. Using
the molten slag refuse, it began to fill up what used to be part of Lake
Michigan. It eventually covered almost 600 acres of land.
Over the years, labor difficulties
became common, and the company started its decline. In 1979, employment
went down to about 10,000. After that, layoffs were becoming common.
Facilities began closing. The demand for steel went down, so suppliers
went down with it. On Thursday Jan. 9, 1992, the announcement of
the shut down was official. In April of the same year the mill closed with
less then 700 workers.
The U.S. Steel plant has
been shut down as of 1992, and the 576 acres of property on which it stood
are empty, but there are many plans for it. The Solo Cup Company
bought 120 acres of it, and a plant will begin construction soon.
There will be a new park on the southern end of the site, that will be
lake front and the largest park built in Chicago in 20 years. The
rest of the property is up for sale.
Click on the links at the left to tour
Chicago's South Chicago Community.