76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: mah381 ()
Date: January 23, 2013 07:18PM

Does anyone know why 76th Street and Greenwood Avenue curve around a large rounded corner lot in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood?

Old aerial photos show a building on the lot, built sometime before 1938 and demolished sometime between 1964 and 1972. Does anyone know what this building was?

All that is left are its foundations and a parking lot.


Polk's directory lists a Union Foundry Works at 7610 S. Greenwood, and images of advertisements found elsewhere on the internet list "76th and Greenwood" as their shop address, so maybe that answers my question. Can anyone confirm?

I would still love to know the history of street layout and land subdivision in the area, to know why the street grid was altered to create such a prominent lot for the foundry.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2013 07:51PM by mah381.

Re: 76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: WayOutWardell ()
Date: January 23, 2013 09:00PM

Fuuny you should ask, I was just thinking about this weirdness the other day.

From what I've read, it was once the site of the Cornell Watch Factory, owned by Paul Cornell. Here's what the mention on Wikimapia says:

[i]In 1870, Paul Cornell, the founder of Hyde Park and landowner of most of the South Side of Chicago, built his Cornell Watch Company's factory here. At the time there were no streets here, only the train tracks of Grand Crossing, which provided access for materials and workers. Cornell sold the business in 1874 and the new owners moved it to Berkeley, California. The building remained in place long enough for Chicago's street grid to come through the area, but since the property and sewer lines were established, this perturbation in the street pattern was set permanently.

Re: 76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: bowler ()
Date: January 23, 2013 09:31PM

I'm not familiar with the area but I took a look at some other resources.

The Illinois Sanbourn Maps from 1923 show a A.C. Clark & Co MFG of Dental Supplies as being at the rounded curve of the street. The Maps can be accessed through the Chicago Public Library website, but you do need a card.

Maps of Chicago as far back as 1888 show the same configuration. You can check out a 1903 map here:


Prior to 1888, the area was not part of Chicago so I can't find any other information.

Re: 76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: bowler ()
Date: January 23, 2013 09:49PM

I looked at some later Sanbourn Maps and it shows "various manufacturing buildings" dotting the curve and a 1956 Tribune article speaks of an arrest made in a "abandoned factory building" at 7600 S. Greenwood. So it was obviously used for manufacturing for a while.

Being so close to so many railroads it's not uncommon to see strangely layed out streets. I know on the SW side the railroad tracks cause a great many oddities as far as street layouts. The majority of street in Garfield Ridge and Clearing follow a strict gris pattern except for those that are close to the tracks.

Re: 76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: mah381 ()
Date: January 24, 2013 01:59AM

Thank you both for your research and answers to my question regarding this street grid anomaly. I found an image of the Cornell watch factory here: http://www.sil.si.edu/ImageGalaxy/imagegalaxy_imageDetail.cfm?id_image=7957
and it appears to match (roughly) the shape of the building seen in old aerial photos. It is a shame that it is no longer there - it appears to have been a grand structure.

It would be great for this unique lot to be put to good use. The prominent location would be ideal for a monumental building, although I doubt anything will be developed there anytime soon.

Thank you again for the information. I have been wondering about this location since I first noticed it about a year ago.

Re: 76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: Kevin Byrnes ()
Date: January 27, 2013 02:49AM

The Wikimapia comment cited by WayOutWardell corresponds to the information given on the Sidwell map for that location, which indicates that the lots were platted in 1872 as the "Cornell" subdivision, being the first recorded for that geography.

Re: 76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: DoctorRock ()
Date: December 02, 2013 04:16AM

In my youth, the beginning years of life with a drivers license, I drove through that area frequently and there were the remnants of a gas station that sat in the middle of the street. The street consequently curved around the gas station. If you kept straight, you drove onto the gas station lot. I'm speaking of 1969 and later. Because of my interest in cars, I was very aware of gas station, garages and auto parts stores.

Re: 76th and Greenwood - large rounded corner lot
Posted by: Paul Petraitis ()
Date: December 14, 2013 02:28PM

Cornell wanted an industrial park at some distance from his new residential area (Hyde Park) and chose the Grand Crossing area. The Cornell Watchworks is arguably the start of the South Sides indstrial legacy. Watch manufacturing is also the earliest "assembly line" business as well as the first "hi tech" factory. The business moved to Japan (shades of the future?)after a few years in Cook County. That Clock Tower was the tallest building in northern Illinois (casting a HUGE shadow no doubt on the Illinois prairie!) when it was built and obviously made a big impression on young George Pullman who passed the site every time he travelled from chicago to the east (which was often!) That the Watchworks inspired Pullman when he decided to build his town 10 years later (1880) is obvious. The Clocktower design of the main building (with its reflecting pool and opposing wings) lead directly to the Pullman Company's Administration Bldg (still standing at 110th and Cottage) and the Cornell duplex cottages for the workers (still extant) presaged Pullman's brick rowhouses with their brick construction over flagstone foundations.BTW George Pullman was a Board member of the Cornell Company and the board gave him a Cornell Watch with a reproduction of the famous engraving of "the raising of Lake Street: engraved on its cover. The watch is at Chicago Historical.

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