In the midst of an overhaul after sitting vacant for 16 years, the old Cook County Hospital, at 1835 W. Harrison St., may soon be given landmark status, solidifying its historical significance in Chicago.
The city’s 18-member Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards will get the ball rolling Thursday on whether the building deserves the designation.
If the committee decides it does, the matter will go before the full City Council on Wednesday next week.
The Near West Side building already is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) was born in the hospital and is pushing for landmark status.
“It’s been in our history a long time,” Burnett said. “I think it’s something that … architecturally is historic, it’s solid and it’s part of Chicago and Cook County history and I think that’s something to preserve. The unique thing … is that it’s a building we’re trying giving life back to and it’s a place where so many lives started.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she hopes the building receives the historical landmark designation. In June, Preckwinkle, Burnett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were at a ceremonial groundbreaking for the building’s redevelopment. Plans for the structure include a hotel, office space and retail. Land around the building also will be part of the development, officials have said.
“I think it’s important to recognize that this is a building that has an important place in Chicago and Cook County history,” Preckwinkle said, comparing the hospital’s history of taking all patients regardless of where they came from or their ability to pay to Ellis Island in New York.
“It’s served wave after wave of immigrants and those who need care and can’t afford it or are uninsured and we’re very proud of that history,” Preckwinkle said.
The committee meets at 10 a.m. Thursday in City Council chambers.