Wednesday, February 24, 2016

American Can Company and Can Users

This container industry giant was created in 1901 through the merger of dozens of plants around the country, including some in the Chicago area. Although it was not headquartered in Chicago, American Can became an important actor in the local economy during the early twentieth century. From the beginning of the century through the 1970s, the company employed thousands of men and women (the local workforce stood at about 2,700 in 1934 and 3,000 in 1974) at several plants around the city. [ChiHist1]
So far, I have been able to find three Chicago-area plants.

6017 S Western Ave.

Susan Reibman Groff comment on Paul Alvarado's posting

Note the CSX/PRR/Panhandle 59th Street Yard in the background of the posted photo.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Maywood, IL

This plant was created in 1885 when Norton Can Works moved to Maywood. [ChiHist2] In 1935 it was the birthplace of the beer can. [Tribune]

This plant and a Canada Dry beverage company where two of the plants that closed in the 1970s. By one account, Maywood lost 8,000 jobs because other plants also closed. [Tribune]

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Cragin Chicago, IL (Street View)

From Trinity Moses, <=2005

I haven't found any history on this plant. Thanks to an email from Jerry Hebda, I learned the location was west of Central Avenue and just south of Galewood Yard. (Galewood Yard used to extend south to Monitor Avenue.) Jerry also mentioned: "The place was also known as “White Cap”. My mother was a 2nd shift inspector there in the 1960s."

Street View
It appears the buildings have successfully been repurposed. They have even preserved the smokestack. In fact, it is one of three in the area. I need to go on a "smokestack expedition" and try to find the other two as well.

The plant expanded a lot since 1938.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
This aerial photo of the Galewood Yard also catches much of the American Can Company on the right.
Jack J Billy posted
The Milwaukee Road Galewood Yard,1964.

A. J. Canfield Company

Richard Pitchford posted
I mentioned above that a Canada Dry plant was close to the Maywood can plant. This Canfields plant was kinda close to the Western Ave. can plant. I used to make a point of buying Diet Chocolate Fudge. But I no longer drink carbonated drinks.

Richard's comment:
The A.J. Canfield Company produced and bottled soda beverages including Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge, primarily in the Chicago area and was founded in 1924. Production for the midwestern United States is handled by the American Bottling Company, a subsidiary of Dr Pepper Snapple Group and distribution by Kehe Foods of Chicago.
The company was started in 1924, at 67th Street and South Chicago Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, by A. J. Canfield, a former railroad worker.
In 1995, the A.J. Canfield Company was sold to Select Beverages for an undisclosed sum. Its largest plant, on the south side of Chicago at East 89th Place, was closed in December 1995.
In 1998, Select Beverages was acquired by the American Bottling Company, a joint venture company owned by Cadbury Schweppes and the Carlyle Group, now the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Was it the building in the upper-right corner of this aerial photo?


  1. White Cap was it's own company until the 50's. Continental/American Can killed the company.



  4. Webcor was located just South of White Cap at 5608 W, Bloomingdale.