top of page



Photo Courtesy City of Chicago




Established: 1837

Overall area: 614.8 km2

Population: 2,696,500 



Area: 73.8 km2

Program: Apparel, beverage and tobacco, electric equipment, fabricated metals, furniture, leather and allied products, nonmetallic minerals, primary metal, paper, printing, textile, transportation equipment, miscellaneous goods

Urban form: Developed along major transportation networks, integrated with other land uses

Industrial typologies: Diverse in industry types and sizes

Largest employers: Not identified


Chicago is home to 2.7 million residents, the third most-populous city and part of the third-largest metropolitan area in the United States after New York City and Los Angeles. Thanks to its location, the city became a major transportation hub, and consequently, a major center for manufacturing, retail, and finance in the late-19th century.


The city layout features a gridded street network with major diagonal arterial roads and railways radiating from the downtown center. In the 1980s, the city was losing industrial jobs, partially due to increased foreign competition, along with residential and commercial development pressures. In 1988 the city created its first Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) to retain industrially-zoned land and to prevent further job losses.[1]


As a result of the Chicago’s effort to protect manufacturing uses, there are now 24 Industrial Corridors; most of the land with a manufacturing zoning designation is located within or adjacent to one of those Industrial Corridors. The Industrial Corridors are tightly knit with the residential and commercial land uses, and exist as an important part of Chicago’s urban landscape. PMDs are considered to have been effective in fostering manufacturing activities within Chicago, as they ensure long-term stability for industrial businesses looking to invest and expand within the city's districts.







This diagram illustrates the relationship between Chicago’s Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD) and the rest of the city area. PMDs are concentrated along major transportation networks, such as arterial roads, railroads and rivers, which results in a concentric, finger-shaped pattern that converges towards Lake Michigan and the downtown area.


Such development patterns are consistent throughout Chicago’s development history, which is also clearly illustrated in Chicago’s 1904 Industry and Railroad Map and its 1965 comprehensive plan. 

This diagram depicts the infrastructure network and the resulting city fabric around one of the PMDs. An extensive railroad system and a network of collector roads connect the PMDs with the larger transportation system.


The dense grid network of the local roads demonstrates the typical relationship between PMDs and Chicago’s built areas. Chicago’s PMDs are tightly integrated with the rest of the city fabric offering an urban pattern for accommodating industrial uses within a city. 

[1] Summarized from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (blog),

Location                                                             Relationship                                                     Infrastructure

bottom of page