The historic Pfannmueller Engineering Company building rests alongside the brand-new Logistics Property Co. warehouse on the 3700 block of South Ashland Avenue in the East District of Chicago's Central Manufacturing District.

East Central Manufacturing District Named to Top Seven Most-Endangered List

Published March 4, 2021

The historic East District of the McKinley Park neighborhood's Central Manufacturing District (CMD) made the 2021 "Chicago 7" list of most-endangered historic sites from Preservation Chicago

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The Chicago 7 is the group's annual list of the city's most-endangered historic resources "threatened by demolition due to development pressure, neglect, or a lack of resources," Preservation Chicago states on its Chicago 7 home page. Once on the list, a site "remains an advocacy priority of Preservation Chicago for as many years as it takes for it to be saved or demolished."

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East Central Manufacturing Disrict 3655 S Iron St 20210301Terra-cotta ornaments the historic East District building at 3655 S. Iron St., Chicago.The original East District of the Central Manufacturing District is located in the McKinley Park neighborhood, south of West 35th Street and between South Ashland Avenue and the South Branch of the Chicago River (aka Bubbly Creek). Founded in 1902, it preceded the stretch of Central Manufacturing District along Pershing Road as the first phase of the United States' very first industrial park.

Demolition Danger

The East District's designation joins that of the Pershing Road stretch of the CMD, which Preservation Chicago named it to its 2020 Chicago 7 most-endangered list.

The East District CMD page on the Preservation Chicago website notes the historic and architectural value of its original buildings, which were ornamented with terra-cotta and built in a unified design to appeal to the top companies of the day. Original professional services integrated into the CMD inspired ornate interiors in places, too, such as the original banking and professional spaces that remain.

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"The greatest danger confronting the CMD East is that of rampant demolition unrestricted by any historic protections," Preservation Chicago writes on the East District CMD page. It notes the demolition of the Wrigley factory and others as examples of building losses, and also lists over a dozen "contributing properties" adjacent to the district, such as many of the warehouses on the 3700 and 3800 blocks of the west side of South Ashland Avenue.

Chicago Landmark District

To protect the East District CMD, Preservation Chicago recommends designating it a Chicago Landmark District. Although the area is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this does not protect buildings from demolition, Preservation Chicago writes.

"Reuse developments of industrial areas have been shown time and again to be popular destinations for local businesses and communities," the group writes. "Through thoughtful design and community-sensitive uses, we can create additional space for local communities that is still true to the spirit of this revolutionary district."

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McKinley Park Neighborhood Restaurant Guide