Sidney Sawyer Elementary School sits nestled between Brighton Park and Gage Park, just outside of the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side. On an unseasonably warm Tuesday in March, students from Laura Gluckman’s sixth grade science class took a field trip like no other.
back of the yards
Jim Gonksa left his home in Chicago’s Back of the Yards over 45 years ago when his father’s meatpacking job relocated to Bradley, Illinois, where land and rents were more affordable. Today, the majority of the neighborhood’s once-thriving meat processing plants have disappeared. The former Peer Foods factory site on 46th street lives on, absent of hanging carcasses and sausage linkers. The building is currently occupied by a kombucha startup, a beehive workshop, a bakery, brewery and a specialty ice distributor, among other niche businesses.