about ourhistory

Situated on Chicago's Near West Side, the Illinois Medical District (IMD) is one of the largest urban healthcare, educational, research and technology districts in the nation.

The District had its start in the 1870′s when Cook County Hospital, Rush Medical College, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons were established on the Near West Side following the great Chicago Fire of 1871. The cornerstone for the Medical Center was the building of Cook County Hospital in 1876. In 1877, Rush Medical College erected a building next to County at Harrison and Wood. Presbyterian Hospital (affiliated with Rush) was built in 1883. The University of Illinois at Chicago's origins in the District can be traced to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, founded in 1881. In 1913, the College became the University's College of Medicine.

In 1917, the State acquired the vacated Chicago Cubs Park located at Polk and Wolcott for the University. In turn the University built two new medical college buildings and a hospital in the 1920′s with further building taking place on this block in the 1930′s and 1940′s. In 1924, the Cook County Juvenile Court was relocated to the area.

Also in 1917, the 971-bed County Hospital was completed and the Illinois Public Welfare Director, Charles Thorne, suggested that the area be given a special medical center identity. In 1925, preliminary plans and sketches for the center were prepared. Four years later the University of Illinois announced its intention to construct a medical school and a teaching hospital.

By 1934, a local Medical Square Commission was formed to clear the property north of Cook County Hospital for a convalescent park, the first major land use accomplishment by an official governing body. In 1940, the Honorable Vito Marzullo, a state representative from the Near West Side communicated his dream of establishing the finest Medical Center in the world to Governor Green and the legislature. To help Marzullo promote the idea, Park Livingston of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, used his skills and good will to assist in the passing of the Medical District Act in 1941. The Medical Center Commission was formally established and purchased its first property that year.

In 1953, the Veterans Administration opened its new West Side Medical Center. In 1957, the Fantus Clinic was added to Cook County Hospital as an outpatient facility. The 1960′s experienced the growth of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Campus, including a new University College of Pharmacy. During that period, the boundaries of the District were expanded to 14th/15th Street South of Roosevelt Road creating the "District Development Area" as an area of continued land acquisition and assemblage for future growth.

In the mid 1970′s, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center built a new Academic Facility, the Bowman Health Center for the Elderly, an addition to its three professional buildings and a parking deck. The University of Illinois built a College of Dentistry and a Health Sciences Library. The City of Chicago Department of Public Health opened a new office and laboratory building.

During the 1980′s, there was significant growth in the District. Cook County built a new Institute of Forensic Medicine and Medical Examiners facility in 1980. In 1982, the Chicago Technology Park was created. In 1983, UIC opened a 500-bed replacement hospital. The UIC Eye Research Center, a student residence and other facilities were built in the mid 1980′s. Rush completed a 254 bed atrium hospital building. The Veterans Affairs built a new ambulatory care facility.

In 1994, the County completed a large addition to the Juvenile Justice Center and added a 2,000 space parking deck. In 1995, the District's name was changed from the Illinois Medical Center to the Illinois Medical District to recognize that the "District" now contained various individual "medical centers." In 1996, the State completed construction of a state-of-the-art State Police Forensic Science Center, the City opened its new Communications Center and UIC opened its Molecular Biology Research Building. In 1997, the Cook/Rush CORE Center, the UIC Outpatient Clinic and Cook County parking deck broke ground. In 1998, the Commission adopted a comprehensive current Master Plan for the district. Recognizing a need for additional supportive food service and retail facilities, the Ashland/Roosevelt Retail Center was opened in January 2002.

The beginning of the 21st Century continued to witness the growth and expansion of the District and the fulfillment of its mission. The Barton Senior Assisted Living Project, the Chicago Child Advocacy Center, the Roosevelt/Wood Institutional Office Research Center, the Veteran's Administration parking deck and Veteran's Benefits Administration Building were completed. In addition the Cook County Hospital Replacement Facility, a major project, was opened up as the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

Most recently, the American Red Cross, Mile Square Health Center, the University of Illinois at Chicago's Health, Technology and Innovation initiative and Great Point Energy have opened locations in the IMD.

It is our intention to continue to work in partnership with the private sector, State of Illinois, Cook County, and City of Chicago for the continued growth of the District.