Construction Delays Possible Due to Chicago Corpses

March 1, 2018

A new $70 million high school is in the works for the Dunning neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago. Construction is expected to be finished by the fall of 2019, with a school capacity of 1,200 students.

However, construction schedules could be affected to accommodate special procedures that are in place due to certain “archeological concerns” on the site.

Dead bodies. Thousands of dead bodies, according to one source.

In Curbed Chicago's article Dunning school construction may hit dead bodies, and the city is planning for it, the new high school is being built on land that the early 1850's had a three-story poor house, a tuberculosis hospital, and an insane asylum. People who had no one to care for them or were homeless were sent to the County Farm via a railroad spur the locals called the insane train.

By 1890, Cook County records show about 1,000 bodies a year were buried in several areas on the 320-acre property.

Chicago purchased some of the land in 2010 with plans for a new school. After digging trenches and using radar technology, Chicago's Public Building Commission wrote a five-page list of “archaeological protocols” detailing how the developer and workers are to process any remains they find.

“Contractor shall...remove all coffin hardware and associated grave artifacts” and “place in plastic storage containers all human skeletal materials,” the document reads. Once the remains are set aside, the builder will have to coordinate with state preservation agencies to find them a final resting place.

Read the Curbed Chicago story here, then link over to Harold Henderson's article Grave Mistakes that describes how the bodies got there and how other contractors have dealt with the underground population.