A LITTLE CHICAGO BRICK HISTORY
Chicago was built and rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 using Chicago common brick produced in Chicago from clay. Chicago bricks look different from bricks produced in other regions due to the geological composition of the clay in our area and the method used to fire the bricks. This clay produced salmon and buff shades of color when it was heated intensely in the brick making process of long ago. These colors are uniquely different from the reds, creams and browns found in other regions.
In the peak of Chicago common brick production, Chicago was home to over 60 different brick manufacturers, some of which started in 1872 to keep up with demand for Chicago common brick after the Great Fire. Demand for Chicago commons eventually decreased with the increased use of concrete block and wood and the remaining brick production companies in Chicago were consolidated under one company name, the Illinois Brick Company. Then Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the newly established Environmental Protection Agency required the Illinois Brick Company to bring their kilns and processing facilities into compliance with new regulations. This would have cost the Illinois Brick Company millions of dollars so, rather than complying, they decided to shut down brick manufacturing operations.
Today as buildings are demolished for new construction and development, Windy City Antique Brick Company salvages this used Chicago common brick guaranteeing that we recycle this quality brick and in the process retain a little bit of Chicago’s history.