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The Run Down

Explore what’s left of an abandoned grain silo just Southwest of the city. Here are the guide highlights.

1. Getting to the Damen Silos*
2. Entering the Silo Grounds
3. Silo Basement
4.Warehouse

*Exploring the Damen Silos is technically illegal, so I wouldn’t recommend just walking up to the entrance from the main road. Scroll to the next section for details on the best way to get there.

Damen Silos Map

1. GETTING TO THE DAMEN SILOS

The Damen Silos sit right on the outskirts of downtown Chicago and for many, it serves as an unofficial landmark representing a moment in time when the city was a center of agriculture and manufacturing. 

Getting to the Damen Silos was a bit easier than expected. The Damen Silos are located on 29th and Damen on the banks of the Chicago River. This was my first time going so I had my car and drove around a bit looking for an entrance. The Damen Silos are bordered by a highway to it’s south and private warehouses to it’s north so I had to do a few laps to find an inconspicuous place to park my car. I ended up parking about a half mile away in a Target Store parking lot which was the perfect cover.

Behind the parking lot is a street that follows along some railroad tracks that lead to the Silos. As you walk east along the street, you’ll notice that the fence between the street and the railroad tracks ends. This is your opening. As you make your way up to the the railroad tracks, follow it going west until you find yourself directly underneath the Damen street bridge. Once you get there, follow the bridge towards the Silos.

Edit: Credit to Vinod Kalathil with this update.

“Thanks for this great post. We went there last week and used your instructions. Unfortunately you can‘t use this route anymore because there is a new construction under the Damen Bridge. We tried cutting through and a guard with a dog came out and told us to get out. I think the best way is to park at Target and walk across Damen bridge and take the ramp down to 29th street. The ramp is closed, but you can walk down there.”

2. ENTERING THE SILO GROUNDS

As you follow underneath the Damen St. bridge, you’ll see an opening to make your way onto the Silo grounds. There is a gravel path that leads you in between the Silos, and the first thing you’ll see is a perfectly framed view of the downtown Chicago. It’s actually quite amazing to see Chicago’s past set against the backdrop of its future. It reminds me a bit of those dystopian future movie archetypes where the world is distinctly split between the haves and have nots. Perhaps that isn’t so far off from reality.

3. EXPLORING SILO BASEMENT

As you circle around the Silo, you’ll notice that a portion of a wall has been cut out which leads to the Silo basement. In the basement is a maze of hallways lined with graffiti from top to bottom. While the sun makes it’s way through small windows along the basement’s outer edge, as you make your way deeper, the light eventually fades to black. If you want to get to the top of the Silo, I heard the access point is somewhere in the basement. I wasn’t able to find it, but I also was by myself so I didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the basement for obvious reasons i.e. monsters

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 4. WAREHOUSE

Adjacent to the Silos is a beautifully broken warehouse. After wandering around the premises, I found a set of stairs leading up to a second floor with a half standing roof. The stairs seemed to be in decent shape, so I felt safe going up. Since the second story was exposed to the elements, the ground was covered with plants starting to sprout with the spring weather. This was the last building I decided to explore as the sun was beginning to set.