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Brand Your Initials onto a Steak at the Stock Yard Inn

The Stock Yard Inn, located near the Union Stock Yards. Postcard published by Max Rigot Selling Co., Chicago. 

In the Sirloin Room at the Stock Yard Inn, customers could pick their own steaks and brand their initials onto the meat with a hot iron. The restaurant offered this option so that diners could verify that the cooked steak on their plate was the piece of meat they had selected.

The sprawling, Tudor-style hotel and restaurant was located at 42nd Street and Halsted Street, next to the International Amphitheatre and the Union Stock Yards. Cattlemen would stay at the hotel to conduct business, often after dropping off livestock at the yards.

The Sirloin Room at the Stock Yard Inn. Postcard from the Chicago in History Postcards website. 

The Stock Yard Inn was also popular among tourists. Several U.S. presidents stayed at the inn and held events at the adjacent amphitheater. A 1955 advertisement that appeared in the Chicago Tribune indicates that the banquet rooms at the inn could hold 20 to 5,000 people. The advertisement also states that “Our good neighbors in ‘The Yards’ reserve the very best for the Stock Yard Inn. Our chef carefully cuts and properly ages all steaks for true enjoyment.”

The International Amphitheatre near the Stock Yard Inn. Postcard image provided by the Chicago History in Postcards website. 

The Stock Yard Inn is credited with helping Chicago become known as a “steak town.” Many meat connoisseurs preferred the taste of Midwest grain-fed animals compared to cows that ate grass, according to some past articles from the dining section of the newspaper.

The restaurant and inn stood for 65 years before facing the wrecking ball in 1976. The closing of the stock yards in 1971 made it difficult for the inn to stay open. Many events were also moved to McCormick Place instead of the amphitheater, enticing visitors to stay closer to the downtown area.

The International Amphitheatre was built in 1934 for $1.5 million by the Stock Yard Company. It was mainly used to host livestock exhibitions. In later years, popular music acts played at the amphitheater, but many started to shift their venues to the McCormick Place.

There are only a few postcards of the Stock Yard Inn but more of the International Amphitheatre. There are so many postcards of the stock yards in general that some people just exclusively collect them. Most stock yard postcards are also worth more than postcards with other images of Chicago.

The International Amphitheatre near the Union Stock Yards. Postcard image provided by the Chicago History in Postcards website. 

The Stock Yards in Chicago. Postcard produced by the Gerson Bros., Chicago. 

The Stock Yards in Chicago. Postcard produced by Colorpicture, Boston.


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