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Demolition Begins on One of Chicago's Oldest Factory Buildings

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A section of the former Crane Company factory is currently being demolished

It's a familiar story: a very old building that for decades housed workers and machinery is being demolished to make room for a new high-rise. And this week, the building (or at least, part of the building) being erased from the urban fabric is the old Crane Company factory at 154 – 166 North Jefferson Street. The nondescript building may look like any other old factory, but this one is one of the oldest standing factories in Chicago. According to the Chicago Patterns blog, the factory dates back to 1865 and because of its location west of the Chicago River, it avoided the Great Fire that engulfed much of the city's downtown in 1871.

A demolition permit was issued for the building earlier this month, catching the attention of local photographer and blogger Gabriel X. Michael. However, Michael tells us that demolition has indeed begun on the site. According to the Chicago Architecture Blog, a section of the original building will remain and be repurposed for residences. The building's western extension is being demolished to make room for a new 14-story building designed by GREC Architects.

The Crane Company played an important role in Chicago's history, as it produced steam pumps, iron pipes, and heating systems. The company was pivotal in helping the city rebuild its fresh water and sewage infrastructure after the Great Chicago Fire.