Damen Silos: 2023 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois

“Easily seen from I-55 and the Orange Line L, the Damen Silos are an iconic reminder of our community’s role in feeding America for over 100 years.”

– McKinley Park Development Council


2860 S. Damen Ave, Chicago, Cook County
Located along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal




John Metcalf (civil engineer)


MAT Asphalt, led by Michael Tadin, Jr.


The Damen Silos are one of the last remaining monuments to Chicago’s historic dominance in the national grain industry. Built in 1906 by the Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, today the silos are an iconic waterfront landmark visible from I-55, the Chicago Transit Authority’s Orange Line train and the adjacent neighborhood of McKinley Park. More recently, the silos were featured in the 2014 movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and have become a favorite destination for urban explorers. In addition to the silos’ historic and present-day significance, decisions about their future will be extraordinarily significant for McKinley Park, a neighborhood in the midst of an ongoing struggle for environmental justice.


In 2022, the State of Illinois placed the Damen Silos up for sale. The highest bidder, Michael Tadin Jr. of MAT Asphalt, purchased the silos in October for $6.52 million. Despite objections from local residents and advocacy organizations who have environmental concerns about MAT’s activities in McKinley Park, the sale proceeded without community input. Although plans for the site are not yet finalized, Tadin has stated that he plans to demolish the silos and may build a new corporate headquarters and trucking infrastructure in their place. Demolishing the silos would rob Chicago of an important piece of its industrial history that has great potential for clean and equitable redevelopment.


Local advocates want to see this site creatively reused in a way that invites the community into the space. That might include public art, recreation amenities, music venues and park space. Other locales as diverse as Toronto, Buenos Aires, Omaha and the Australian Outback have transformed their silos into murals, museums, housing, climbing gyms and sports stadiums. Adaptive reuse of silos has the potential to be imaginative and beautiful. Community engagement must be a key component of any plan for the site.


  • Contact Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson to ask the City of Chicago to intervene in the future of the Damen Silos at lettertothemayor@cityofchicago.org.
  • Help prevent situations like this one from occurring in the future. Contact your state representatives to tell them you do not support the sale of state-owned properties without community input. Find your representatives at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

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