Thursday, December 1, 2016

Silos at Wrigley Field?

The land where Wrigley Field itself stands was never itself a coal yard, but it was actually surrounded by coal yards, as well as freight rail lines and lumber yards, at the turn of the century and well into its history. And even earlier, the site of the ballpark itself was home to a Lutheran seminary, which is where Seminary Avenue got its name.
Wrigley Field - Addison Street looking West. 1935
The Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary opened there in 1891. Despite the fact that there was already one coal yard right across the street, the Lutheran minister who built the seminary thought it would be a peaceful place for his students’ quiet contemplation. But soon, coal and lumber yards took over much of the area, attracted by the Chicago and Evanston Railroad (later the Milwaukee Road). The young seminarians complained of the coal yard’s “smoke, dust, grime, soot, dirt, foul gases; railroading by night and day; whistles, ding-donging of bells late and early and in between times…the unsanctified men in charge sending the unsterilized particles, odors and speech into the homes, eyes, and ears of the seminary habitats.” The seminary abandoned the site and moved to Maywood in 1910.
In 1914 the Federal League founder and Chicago Federals (later named the Chicago Whales) ball-club owner Charles Weeghman decided to build his team’s new ballpark at Clark and Addison.
Sahara Coal
The ballpark was completed in 1915 and Weeghman’s Whales won the Federal League pennant that same year. In what was perhaps a harbinger for future occupants of the stadium, the Federal League folded shortly after, and the Cubs moved into the park in 1916 under owner William Wrigley Jr. and Weeghman Park became Wrigley Field in 1926.
1945 World Series at Wrigley Field.
Clark Street, looking North from Addison. Wrigley Field to the right. The mid-1950s.
Still, the coal yards stuck around for longer than you might think. The Wright and Company coal yard across Clark Street operated until 1938, and the coal yard Collins and Wiese Coal Company with five hulking silos on Seminary Avenue and Clark Street operated until 1961.

READ: Chicago’s National League Baseball Parks History.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. When were the tracks removed?

    I've been looking through a film highlight of The Bears 1963 Championship game when they played at WF and you can see crossing gates in the background as fans are entering the stadium.


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