Sunday, December 13, 2015

Morton Salt Bulk Warehousing Facility

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This is a grab shot I got from Elston Avenue as my daughter was driving me around Chicago so that I could take pictures of some bridges. We were going north on Elston as part of a detour to avoid the incredibly bad traffic on North Avenue even during the weekends. Google has a streetview  from Chicago Switching that shows the lower left part of this picture is the end of the roof covering a freight car unloading facility. You can clearly see this roof sign while driving along I-94. I went to Northwestern University in the late 1960s and remember seeing it.

Looking at the satellite image below, it appears that street-running was required to service this plant. I walked down Elston from Cortland Street to North Avenue. If I had known there was some street running a couple blocks further south, I would have gone down there to take pictures of the track.
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I did take a picture down Elston before I turned east on North because an angle in Elston allows you to see most of the building. But, of course, traffic obscures the railroad facilities on the side of the building.

Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote the lead article in the Business section of the Sept. 16, 2015 Chicago Tribune saying this facility was to close in another month. Morton has more than 20 production sites and this is the only one they are closing. It is closing because the traffic has become horrible as the area converted industries into residences and because the land has become too valuable. It is in a "manufacturing" district. I put "manufacturing" in quotes because, as a developer interested in the 4.5 acres described, the Goose Island area is a new kind of manufacturing --- ideas, intellectual property and innovation.
In other words, what we in the suburbs would call "office space." I also noticed a few car dealers, all luxury cars, and a Home Depot. By the way, not only is the traffic on North Avenue bumper-to-bumper, it is not unusual for a traffic light to turn green and nothing happens because the next block of traffic is standing still.

Gimp contrast +50
This view is of the river side from the Division Street Bridge.

The view below is from the North Street Bridge.
Gimp contrast +50
Mystik Msk -> Forgotten Chicago
Update: Mystik's comment:
Aerial view of The Morton Salt factory. Estimating when the NEC advertisement was created, looks like the 80's.
This warehouse served a large region as the following photo illustrates. Notice how important barrel making was back in the 1800s. They did not have tank and covered hopper cars back then. They evidently didn't have bulk commodity barges either.
John Vize posted
Morton Salt Company boat unloading salt delivered to Davenport, Iowa from Chicago, Illinois Via the Illinois and Michigan and Hennepin canals to the Mississippi. Photo was taken just above the Government Bridge about 110 years ago.
Janeen Rosenberg posted a view of the "morton Salt" sign on the roof as viewed from the expressway. Imagine how many people on their way to downtown from O'Hare see this sign.
"The Morton facility receives up to one hundred barge loads of salt each year; about 150,000 tons." (The Chicago River An illustrated History and Guide to the River and Its Waterways, 2nd Edition, 2006, David M. Solzman, p.94)

A 2016 conceptual rendering of R2’s Salt District development.
 Gensler Chicago
It looks like they plan to keep the unloading conveyor enclosure as a walkway. Are the turning the west shed into an ice skating ring?]
A before picture:
3D Satellite

Cindy Kaufmann posted
Look what’s getting a face lift.
Ralph Eilken: Heard it will be a music venue.
[I'm glad they figured out a new purpose for the building and were able to save it.]
Waldolf Ursine: The building is being restored as a music venue. The plan was to leave the roof in place complete with the Morton girl, but the salty environment destroyed the steel beams and a new roof had to be installed and the Morton sign as we can see is also being restored.
Randy Henning: I know I’m late to the party, but I’m not last. Them shafts are 900’ deep and the mines go out under the lake. There’s vaults down there, it’s a perfect storage environment. [I thought this was just a warehouse. I do now there is a salt mine under Lake Erie.]
Christopher Camalick: The Morton Salt Umbrella Girl and slogan first appeared on the blue package of table salt in 1914. Throughout the years the girl has changed dresses and hairstyles to stay fashionable. She was updated in 1921, 1933, 1941, 1956, and 1968. In 2014, the Morton Salt Girl was refreshed one more time in celebration of her 100th year as the face of the brand.
Joe Shanahan: Most of our salt comes from Detroit. The salt is deep and pure
Gail Young-Fearon's Husband

Joe Salas contributed two photos as comments on Cindy's post:


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