Unformatted text preview: bling right before his eyes. Any enjoyment of his own success had to be tempered by a hard, cold reality. While listening to
Ruben Ramirez’s life story, I looked out the car window at one poignant scene after another, at abandoned warehouses and slaughterhouses,
at junkyards, slums, and parking lots where Chicago’s stockyards once stood.
The world’s biggest aggregation of labor and capital in one place has largely disappeared, with bits and pieces of its history lurking amid
brick housing projects. The local meatpacking industry that once employed 40,000 people now employs about 2,000. Ninety-five p ercent of
its jobs have moved elsewhere. The last of the Chicago stockyards closed in 1971. Today there’s only one slaughterhouse left in Packingtown,
an old hog plant. There’s just a handful of meat processors: firms that make bacon, sausage, hamburger patties, and kosher products. When
the large meatpackers departed, the soul of the place fled with them.
We got out of the car at t...
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- Spring '08