Chicago Neighborhoods: Back of the Yards

This South Side neighborhood’s name, history, and even its mere existence, are indelibly linked to the Union Stock Yards and a time when Chicago was, in the immortal words of poet Carl Sandburg, “hog butcher to the world.” Today, the Union Stock Yards Gate is all that remains of the city’s famous meatpacking past, and the neighborhood that was once home to scores of Eastern European immigrant Stockyard workers is now a thriving Hispanic residential and commercial community.

Back of the Yards takes its name from its location south and west of the old Union Stock Yards, which made Chicago the nation’s meatpacking capital before fading in the 1950s and closing forever in 1971.

There is a vibrancy here, to be sure. The stretch of 47th Street between Damen and Ashland Avenues is an especially active commercial district that well serves its largely Hispanic community. There are shops: This is one of the areas in the city where, though the surroundings are humble, Western-wear stores sell high-end Stetsons and alligator boots. And there are restaurants: La Cecina, one of those restaurants, is justly respected for its namesake specialty, thin slices of steak grilled and served with guacamole, pico de gallo and freshly made, hot corn tortillas.


Apostolic House of Prayer

The former Ukrainian church (1919), the Apostolic House of Prayer hosts Sunday services and provides community events and outreach programs in their beautiful old sanctuary.

Free Admission | 4952 S. Paulina Ave. | 773.994.7874

Back of the Yards Park

This is a small recreational park was developed in the late 1940s. It has a basketball court and a spray pool.

Free Admission | 4922 S. Throop St. | 312.746.5083

Chiappetti LLC

Chiappetti is one of the few remaining slaughterhouses in the city. It currently slaughters, packages, and distributes lamb.

Free Admission | 3810 S. Halsted St. | 773.927.6363

Chicago Tribute Markers of Distinction

Chicago Tribute Markers of Distinction commemorate notable Chicagoans by marking the places where they lived or worked. Since the program started in 1997, eighty markers have been placed across the city. This number will be increased to 100 markers placed by the end of 2009.

Free Admission | 78 E. Washington St. | 312.744.6630

Cornell Square Park

Designed by the Olmsted Brothers and D.H. Burnham & Co. in 1905, this small park has open field space as well as several athletic amenities including indoor gyms/courts and a range of youth programs.

Free Admission | 1809 W. 50th St. | 312.747.6097

Davis Square Park

Designed by the Olmsted Brothers and D.H. Burnham & Co. in 1905, this small park close to the 47th Street retail strip has several fields, including one turf field, plus a gym, boxing gym, fitness center, auditorium.

Free Admission | 4430 S. Marshfield Ave. | 312.747.6107

Eden Place Nature Center

Eden Place is a doorway to the world of nature on Chicago’s South Side, an urban nature preserve where children and their families explore the mechanics of a wetland, prairie, urban farm and much more.

Free Admission | 4417 S. Stewart Ave. | 773.624.8686

Mary Eliza Mcdowell Settlement House

Commemorates the University of Chicago Settlement House opened by McDowell to improve sanitary conditions and the quality of life for immigrant families in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Selected as a Chicago Tribute Marker of Distinction

Free Admission | 4655 S. McDowell

National Live Stock Bank of Chicago

This Burnham & Root-designed building housed the National Live Stock Bank of Chicago in the days of the stock yards. No longer operational, it is located down the street from the Union Stock Yard Gate.

Free Admission | W. Exchange Ave. & S. Halsted St.

New Life Seventh Day Adventist Church

Featuring large stained glass windows and an old pipe organ, this SDA church has served as a vital part of this community for many years.

Free Admission | 5001 S. Hermitage Ave. | 773.434.8178

Saul Alinsky’s Office

Commemorates the office of Saul Alinsky, the community oragnizer who taught poor communities in Back of the Yards to organize creatively for better jobs, housing, and government services. Selected as a Chicago Tribute Marker of Distinction

Free Admission | 4430 S. Marshfield

Sherman Park

The Olmsted Brothers collaborated with D.H. Burnham & Co to design this striking landscape and buildings for the South Park Commission in 1905. With practically everything from open fields near the water to relax in to facilities for every type of sport, Sherman Park is the largest park in the neighborhood. Its pond is stocked four times a year for fishing. Inside the fieldhouse there are also 12 murals depicting scenes from American history.

Free Admission | 1301 W. 52nd St. | 312.747.6672


This enormous flea market is generally held outdoors, where hundreds of vendors set up to sell everything from tools to clothes. La Loteria is the 425-foot wide mural that covers the entire side of the Swap-o-Rama. It was painted by Hector Duarte and Mariah De Forest.

4200 S. Ashland Ave. | 773.376.6993

Union Stock Yard Gate

Designed by Burnham & Root, the gate is the original limestone entranceway to the former 475-acre Union Stock Yards. It is a Chicago Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Free Admission | W. Exchange Ave. & S. Peoria St.


La Cecina

  • Mexican

La Cecina is a family restaurant and diner with a friendly atmosphere that serves good Mexican food including homemade chips and fresh salsa.

1934 W. 47th St. | 773.927.9444


  • Food Retail: Bakeries

Pantitlan is a local bakery that sells artistically designed Mexican pastries and breads. Popular within the community, it’s best known for its cakes.

1746 W. 47th St. | 773.847.5392

Restaurante El Patio

  • Mexican

For 35 years, Restaurante El Patio has specialized in seafood, which can be enjoyed at one of its twelve tables or at the lunch counter.

4527 S. Ashland Ave. | 773.847.2595

Tacos Don Cuco

  • Mexican

This is a small, family owned Mexican restaurant that specializes in shrimp and pastor (pork) tacos.

1847 W. 47th St. | 773.376.4742


De Portes Larios

  • Sportswear

De Portes Larios specializes in soccer jerseys from Europe, Central America and South America, as well as shoes and other soccer accessories.

1839 W. 47th St. | 773.254.2636

Sanchez Brothers Western Wear

  • Other

Sanchez Brothers specializes in Western style clothes, such as leather boots, belts and cowboy hats.

1942 W. 47th St. | 773.254.4090



  • Bus, Walking

This Chicago Neighborhood Tour traces several phases of Chicago’s history through Bridgeport’s monumental churches and other working-class relics, and its recent transformation into one of the city’s hottest new arts and dining scenes.

77 E. Randolph St. | 312.742.1190 (TTY: 312.744.2947)

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