It is generally easier to find examples of scarchitecture in major cities like Chicago, but it's suburbs have a significant amount of interesting examples as well, especially the older, more industrial areas.
Thus, for today's blog, I decided to revisit the concept of scarchitecture and find examples of the phenomenon in the Chicago suburbs.
1) Addison Railroad - (North Ave & Addison Rd, Addison, IL)
The Aldi at the corner of North Av & Addison Rd shows the remants of the Addison Railroad, constructed at the beginning of the 20th Century, which ran from this spot, up Addison Rd, and ended a couple miles north, just north of US-20. The Addison Railroad was quickly bought by Illinois Central Railroad, and remained active up until around the 1970's.
2) Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad (IL 25 S of Hankes Ave, Aurora, IL)
The Mobil Gas Station here is a recent addition to the area, opening in 2015. In it's parking lot, the boundary between the abandoned Bolingbrook spur and the property line is quite visible. In this case, the railroad tracks are still there, but no activity has occurred on the railroad in over 20 years.
4) Braidwood, IL (Railroad St & Washington St)
The existence of a long abandoned railroad is hinted here with "Railroad St" immediately southwest of "Round House St". As best I can tell, the railroad line that once ran through here has been abandoned since at least 1939 according to topographical maps, and yet, one can still see traces of the railroad in both the positioning of the road, and how the building in the center of the frame is parallel to Railroad St, and not a more common rectangular shape.
Chicago & West Towns Railway was a streetcar system, serving the near Western Suburbs of Chicago until 1948. Running in the middle of Broadway Ave, the remnants of the route can still be seen in the large right-of-way that occupies the center of the road, despite the streetcar not operating for 70 years.
6) Franklin Park, IL (Franklin Ave & Martens St)
Due to it's proximity to two large railyards, Franklin Park has a ton of railroad activity. A look on Martens St at Franklin Ave shows it used to have even more, as it was once a connecting railroad between two yards on the former Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad.
7) Hillside, IL (Roosevelt Rd between Mannheim Rd & Wolf Rd)
Mt. Carmel Cemetery was once served by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad. The line's primary service was for funeral trains, although it was also served as a stop between the cemetery and the main line at Bellwood, IL. Trains stopped serving the cemetery in the 1930's, yet satellite imagery still holds clues to the existence of this once gravely stop.
One of the reasons for the closure of the Mt. Carmel line was aside from the cemetery no longer wishing to be a stop on the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, another branch line existed immediately east, this one serving Westchester, IL. This line was intended to extend west and eventually become the divergence point for trains running to Aurora. That never happened, as the Great Depression had a significant impact on the profitability of the line. While this line would survive longer, it too would be abandoned and leave a significant amount of scarchitecture still visible today. The Jewel at Mannheim and Cermak Rd was built within the former right-of-way.
Another piece of scarchitecture associated with this line comes at it's south end in Rockdale, IL near I-80, as the parking lot of Blue Ribbon Distributors as well as Cornerstone Services are both built at angles matching the former right-of-way of the railroad.
9) Bellwood IL (W of 19th Ave & Maywood Dr)
Bellwood is a classic example of a rust belt town. with an industrial past that is today in various stages of decay. There are many signs of scarchitecture throughout the town. In this view, one can see the remnants of a railroad spur which once served the building that is today National Cycle, as well as parking spaces for what once once a stop on the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad, which is today's Prairie Path. A third example comes at the Berghaus Organ Company, where a spur route between the Chicago Great Western and the Chicago & Northwestern once operated. That same spur also leaves a scar at...
10) Melrose Park, IL (Railroad Ave & 21st Ave)
About mile north of Bellwood lies more examples of industrial decay in Melrose Park. The spur from Bellwood ran between 21st and 22nd Avenues. The houses which are now within the former right-of-way appear to been less densely built than those immediately east or west.
11) Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Spur, (Armstong St, Morris, IL)
The remnants of a long lost Rock Island spur are nonetheless kept alive by the Northwestern Corporation building in Morris, IL.
12) North Chicago, IL (MLK Jr. Dr & Commonwealth Ave)
North Chicago, IL has an interesting railroad history, as near MLK & Commonwealth, the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway had an industrial spur line that isn't used anymore, although all the buildings near here show some examples of it's past. There are a few pieces of railroad track in various sidings, although none have been used in recent times. This is also where the EJ&E intersected the abandoned North Shore line, which ran along Commonwealth Ave before turning east, using the right-of-way of today's Bobby Thompson Expy.
13) North Riverside, IL (Greenburg Rd & Hannah Ave)
Up until 2012, Illinois Central (CN after 1995) had a railroad spur which began just south of North Riverside Mall at the main line and extended north to Forest Park, IL, immediately west of Harlem Av. As a result, what is today Essentra Supply Tapes still has a great example of scarchitecture on it's northeast corner.
The answer is that it's parking lot used to be Archer Ave (the former IL-4A). Before the current IL-83/IL-171 bridge was built, drivers would have to use the decommissioned bridge along IL-4A, which later became IL-171 in this area.
The 4 lane bridge that exists today carries both IL-171 and IL-83, and has been in use since the 1950's, leaving St. James as the only business on the former route.
16) Fox Lake Ice House (Sayton Rd, Fox Lake, IL)
Finally, we come to what looks to be a Wye in Fox Lake, IL, immediately south of the end of the Milwaukee District North Line. This line is a remnant of the Ice House Days before the advent of refrigeration, and ice would be transported via railroad from Fox Lake (as well as many other lakes in the region).
The line used to run all the way to the lake, but was truncated after the 1920's. This particular stretch east of US 12 would be used by the Milwaukee Road up until the 1970's, and still leave a mark of it's existence which can easily be seen today.
As with all my blogs, and with railroad history in general, there exists far too many examples to discuss fully in one blog, and I know I missed some examples of scarchitecture that exist in and around Chicago. Let me know if you know of any you'd like to share in the comments. As always, thanks for reading!