The Chicago Junction Railway, which had formerly been the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company Railroad, connected with all of Chicago's major trunk railroads. The company made particular efforts to provide efficient rail service -- both in terms of cost and quality -- and used this concept as a major selling point for the district. Like the Union Stock Yards, the Central Manufacturing District had its own bank, arranged real estate financing, and would even design and construct the buildings if necessary. A private club was maintained for the business executives of the district. The trustees who directed the operation of the district saw to it that a full array of services was provided. Some of these, such as street cleaning, were furnished by the Central Manufacturing District, while others were provided by private companies, such as electricity (generated by the Produce Terminal Corp. mainly), package express service, telegraph services, and so forth.
The Central Manufacturing District touted as one of its many advantages, the excellent local labor market. In a promotional book produced by the district's management, a description of the local "labor supply" is given and lends some insight into how the Central Manufacturing District fit with Bridgeport (part of which is now considered Mc Kinley Park) and surrounding communities:
There is no better point for securing labor, skilled or unskilled, in the city, than in the Central Manufacturing District. The great packing houses and allied industries at the Yards constantly employ a great number of mechanics, engineers, machinists, clerks, (men and women) factory help, office employees, and foremen, making the District a mecca for the unemployed. It is easily accessible on a five-cent fare from thickly populated sections, where live the laboring classes.... With so many applicants for positions, wages are kept reasonably low and these facts add greatly to the attractiveness of the District. The men employed in the packing houses all have large families, and prefer that their children shall find employment within walking distance of their homes, rather than to go to other sections of the city, even at higher wages. The large mail-order houses located in the District find no trouble in getting an abundance of female clerical labor. and there are easily 8,000 girls employed on 35th Street alone. It is estimated that 40,000 people find employment within the limits of the Yards and the Central Manufacturing District. The priests and settlement workers in the vicinity of the District are always glad to co-operate with tenants in securing help of all kinds.  [note 1]
The Central Manufacturing District was a success from its inception. The district's promoters attracted firms from other parts of the city or firms opening branches in Chicago. Industrial tenants located in the district for various reasons. Chief among them were the low rail rates. This is indicated in their 1915 promotional book by a series of testimonial letters compiled by the district's agent, H. E. Poronto. Other reasons given for deciding to locate in the Central Manufacturing District included cleanliness or orderliness of the area, the low insurance rates (stemming from excellent fire protection), access to water, rail, or other transportation, and the reputation of the district. The four example letters below serve to illustrate the perceived benefits of being part of the district.
|Example testimonial letters from industrial tenants|
|Company||Advantages of the CMD emphasized|
|Larkin Co.||Prompt freight service; educated office labor|
|J.L. Metz Furniture||Close to the Loop, beauty|
|Universal Trading & Supply||Savings on less-than-carload shipping|
|Viscosity Oil||Reputation of CMD and men of it|
The variety of companies found within the district was impressive. Manufacturers and commercial establishments represented there dealt in such products as: cooper's stock, iron, steel and metal products, coal, glass, chemicals, cotton oil, wool, paper, pianos, wooden and metal furniture, electrical products, railway equipment, warehousing, sausage casings, food processing, and others. Some company names that are still well-known today that were doing business in the Central Manufacturing District included: William Wrigley Jr. Co., Spiegel, May, Stern Co., United (Rexall) Drug Co., Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co., Indian Refining (Havoline Oil) Co., and the National Carbon Company's Ever Ready works. Several others that were "household" names at the time, such as the White Eagle Brewing Co., were also found there. See the section below for some pictures of the district.
|Views of the Central Manufacturing District: 1915|
By 1915, though, the original Central Manufacturing District (bounded by Thirty-fifth, Morgan, Thirty-ninth, and Ashland) was filled up. The company had been buying more land and extended the district to Western avenue. (This probably explains the publication of their promotional book.) During World War I, the U.S. Army set up huge quartermaster facilities along Thirty-fifth street, which was accessible to Bridgeporters by the Thirty-fifth street car line. In subsequent years the Central Manufacturing District's proprietors purchased other tracts, but these were far from Bridgeport. However, in the 1960s, the Central Manufacturing District took over a section of the fading Union Stock Yards and converted it to industrial use. The final shut down of Union Stock Yards came in 1971. The closure affected Bridgeport workers very little, since by that time most of Bridgeport's residents worked elsewhere. Although the Central Manufacturing District saw relative decline as many companies relocated to the suburbs or to other cities entirely, the Central Manufacturing District is today the home to a good number of firms. Meanwhile the Union Stock Yards has seen renewed interest as an industrial park; although that interest has been restrained somewhat by the difficulties of environmental burdens and the related costs of clean up.