Guttmann closed in 2006, the buildings have since been demolished and the land is vacant. Don't remember the shrimp place on Webster, but I do remember the ones on Cortland just west of Finkl and the one on North Ave. across from Procter & Gamble.
There is construction ongoing there. Condo? The only story I have of that place would coincide with everyone else's who lived around there. THE SMELL! Oh lord it was something you wouldn't forget. Actually at times you can still catch a whiff. The shrimp joint was on Cortland about two blocks away. Joes Fisheries right on the river. Open 24hrs Good stuff! Sorely missed!
You are right murphman about the smell. Back in the mid 70's when I use to go Joes for lunch, I couldn't believe it as well. No parking for Joes either if I remember correctly. There was a scrap yard where the Green Dolphin is now on the corner of Asland and Webster. Also there was a Martins Gas Station on the north west corner of Asland and Armitage. A weird long lot along the tracks.
As an antique dealer- I can tell you Gutman's "Tufraw" (tough rawhide) was a favored material for many designers. Chicago's Samuel Marx and Hollywood's William Haines were among their notable clientele in the 1940's.
As a member of chicagosgettinfugly- I would bet it will be a nasty retail/condo park.
As a former neighbor- It smelled like the zombie apocalypse.
You are correct RJMACHON. Martins gas on the corner and Friedmans Auto Glass on the site of? The dolphin? "The green" part of the signage has been removed so Im guessing the new incarnation will be "The Dolphin"? I couldn't care less, I wish Friedman was still there. Also always wondered about the partial bridge west of that site. Been that way since the mid seventies. Norween Leather is still around so those with nostalgic noses, may get a partial whiff of what that area used to smell like. Goes along with the "great Mexican food" down Ashland at El Presidente. They and not Joes are still there. What a shame!
I played in several bands back in the '70s and around '74-'75, my band rented a 2nd floor room in an old building that had once been a plating factory just north of the Martin gas station. The building's new owners were renting rooms as "offices" but it simply had cheaply constructed walls with a dropped ceiling and cheesy paneling. But, we could play loud and there was nobody to complain in the evenings.
The big negative was when the breeze was from the East and brought the aroma of both the Horween Leather factory and the Gutmann plant over. I recall that it smelled very much like vomit but we sort of got used to it.
The Martin station was convenient to grab a soda in the summer when the indoor temperature in the practice room was probably pushing 100F and it had a working pay phone in those days before cell phones.
I lived near Montrose and Central Park at that time and usually drove down Kimball to Elston down to the practice building 2 -3 times per week and never really appreciated the architecture and the old buildings in the area, especially on Elston.
I've been a Florida resident for 29 years now but the memories of Chicago are still quite vivid in my mind. I suppose that you can "take the boy out of Chicago but you can't take Chicago out of the boy."
I rememeber going to the doctor and dentist at the Fullerton-Ashland medical center and asking my mom what that awful smell was.
One question though, where was the tannery located? Was it closer to Fullerton or Armitage. There must've been a city sanitation dept around there because I remember seeing a yard containing the blue garbage trucks in that vicinity.
Diogenes - funny you mention a rehearsal space. In the mid-80s, my brother had an equally awful rehearsal space in a building just west of the Martin on Armitage, between the two railroad viaducts. It's now a driveway for the Best Buy.
ChiTownJim - the Medill Incinerator was just SW of Fullerton and Ashland. I think they did a segment on it on 'Wild Chicago'. It was replaced with a recycling center; I watched the smokestacks topple from a building at DePaul.
The stretch of Ashland between Elston and Webster has some really old, ornate streetlight bases.
Gutmann was on the south side of Webster and the east bank of the river.
Back in the eighties when they were building the theater and shopping center next door to them The scuttlebutt was that someone made Gutmann's a big offer for their property.
The company was getting the hairy eyeball from the EPA and under a lot of pressure from offshore competition.
The way the story goes is that the heirs wanted them shut down and take a payday, but Adolph "Bunny" Meyer (a Gutmann by marriage) who had run the company since the 1960's said "This company owes it's workers more than it owes any of you". He threw a bunch of money at becoming compliant and competitive and kept the place open.
Bunny died in '02 but I suspect his second wife, trib food critic Abby Mandel kept it going. It closed at the end of '06 and was demolished almost immediately. This was right about the time Abby was starting her battle with cancer. She died in '08.
As of right now, I don't think anything is planned for the site. It is the northernmost piece of the Elston Planned Manufacturing District, which won't allow residential development. Theoretically it also restricts retail development as well, but that hasn't seemed to slow down the Clybourn district.
On the other side of Ashland (across from the dolphin) where the old piano factory stood is supposed to be turning into a Mariano's.
The little 2 story building on Elston next to the tracks is still there and now it houses the Chicago Actors Studio.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/07/2013 02:43PM by PKDickman.
I haven't lived in Chicago, since 2001. But, when I did my friend's father was the Plant Manager, at Gutmann Tannery. I remember being given a brief walking tour. As a student of science and engineering, I remember being thrilled at the gauges and process controls.