Grove Street
by Serhii Chrucky

Grove street is a small diagonal street that runs southwest, starting east of Canal street north of Cermak, ending at the Illinois Central railroad embankment opposite Archer. Where it terminates there is a disused, semi-blocked off underpass where the street used to connect to the intersection of Archer and Normal. Long-disused rails cut through the middle of Grove Street, which continue west along the embankment after the street ends.

The map, at right, from 1938, shows Grove Street in its current configuration. The street was once longer.


Named for John P. Grove, a south-side land developer, the street appears on maps as early as 1849. On the 1849 map, the street only goes from Cermak road northeast to Stewart avenue. By 1862, Grove street had been extended north along the east side of the river to 16th street, and south to Archer around 23rd street. The area surrounding Grove street from the 1880s until the late 1900s (when Cuneo Press moved in) was comprised of various industries. Meatpacking houses, lumber yards, factories, and grain elevators lined the street. The Chicago and Alton railroad (now IC) ran along the street at grade level until 1900, when the track was elevated onto an embankment.

Detail of Chicago & Alton railroad map, 1885.


 

This is Grove Street’s northern terminus at the Chicago and Western Indiana railroad tracks. The street is essentially a parking lot with a name. The break in the pavement in the left picture is part of a truck scale.

From 16th street southwest to Archer was the longest Grove street was to become. During the 1930s, the street was removed from 16th Street southwest to its current terminus before the CW&I tracks, just east of Canal. Other streets, including 16th, in this area were removed as well, in order to create more space for rail yards.


 

East of Canal Street, Grove provides access to the Allied Metal Company building before abruptly dead-ending.

At some point, probably after the demolition of the Cuneo Press, the portion of the street west of Canal street became disused. The connection to Archer avenue was blocked off, most likely due to lack of use. The intersection would also be very unsafe without a stop sign on Archer. Less than a mile southwest in Bridgeport, there is another street named Grove which runs along the same tracks, connecting Bonfield, Crowell, and Farrell streets for about a block. This street was not originally called Grove street, but was renamed in a likely attempt to improve continuity.



Left: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

The empty lot in the above image was formerly occupied by Cuneo press buildings, shown below. The large warehouse building in the top left image, and in the background of the top right image is Nimmons and Fellows’ Hoyt building, which currently lies abandoned. The Hoyt company was a wholesale grocer, as was the next tenant, Austin, Nichols & Co. By the mid-1920s, the Hoyt building was being used by the Cuneo press.



Left: Illinois Historic Preservation Association. Right: Chicago Tribune, 1927.

Grove Street is seen bisecting the Cuneo Press plant in this 1927 aerial photograph. The Cuneo Press was one of the largest commercial printing plants in the country. The company was in business for 70 years, closing when owner and founder John Cuneo died in 1977. The architect of buildings #1,2,4, and 5 in the right image was the incredibly prolific Alfred Alschuler. These buildings (all except the Hoyt) were used to stage the climactic final sequence of the 1991 film Backdraft. Unfortunately, this involved burning the buildings, which were subsequently demolished.


 

Grove Street in 2007, facing south towards Archer Avenue. The street terminates at the dual underpass which connects to Archer.


 

Debris is piled up under the one of these underpasses, and the other is quite treacherous. The “Slow | Junction” sign must be quite old as we’ve never seen it elsewhere. Unfortunately, it has been removed since this photograph was taken in 2005.


 

Facing north towards the underpass from the Archer side.


Sources

Don Hayner and Tom McNamee. Streetwise Chicago: A History of Chicago Street Names.Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1988.

“AIRPLANE VIEW OF CUNEO PRESS DEVELOPMENT.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963), March 27, 1927, http://www.proquest.com.proxy.cc.uic.edu/ (accessed January 11, 2009).


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