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Chicago, Illinois

Abandoned Brach's Candy Factory

What was once one of the country's largest confectionary plants is now an abandoned ruin, but is still pretty sweet. 

Note: Demolition began in 2014. A new industrial center is expected to open by 2017.

Chicago was once known as the “World’s Candy Capital” and the massive plant that earned the city that name still stands, but it has been years since it produced any sweets, instead sitting abandoned and rotting, moving farther and farther from its sugary beginnings.

The historic Brach’s candy company built their giant Chicago factory in 1923 in order to meet the ever-growing demand for their confections, spending $5 million dollars (an almost unheard of amount in those days) on the complex. When the giant plant was finished, the company was able to produce more than 250 different types of treats and for a time seemed as though they were a candy juggernaut too big to fail. Surviving the Great Depression, a deadly explosion in the 1940s, and an ever changing taste in candy, it was not until the early 2000s that the factory met its match. It was sugar itself that was the downfall of the huge factory as the cost of domestic sugar went through the roof in the 80s and 90s making the giant candy operation unsustainable in the US.

In 2003 the plant finally closed, locking its doors and leaving the sprawling operation empty. While the fate of the huge space was decided, the factory simply began to fall apart with paint peeling and metal rusting under years of neglect. One portion of the plant was finally used in the movie The Dark Knight when it stood in for a hospital that was blown up in 2007.     

The rest of the plant continues to stand today with constant plans to tear it down being talked about and slowly getting underway, but for now it is a reminder of a time when Chicago was an even sweeter city. 

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