Southeast Chicago Historical Society

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The Steel Mills

Wisconsin Steel Works, General View

The story of Chicago's Southeast Side is the story of steel. At one point the region was one of the largest steel producing regions in the world. Heavy industry, especially steel mills, came to the area after the Civil War drawn by natural features compatible with their business. There was cheap land and plenty of it -- land that would be used for factories, bulk storage, and disposal. Fresh water was present, water for cooling necessary in the manufacturing process and water for transportation. Railroads had already crossed the area and linked the Southeast Side to other regions of the country. There was an available supply of labor and space for housing more workers. The region was far enough from Chicago to minimize the negative features of heavy industry on the city and yet close enough to take advantage of the markets of the Chicago metropolitan region.



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of Chicago's Calumet Region