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The Chicago Traveler

Freedom Center

by Matt B on November 19th, 2007

Freedom CenterAre you looking for something off the tourists’ beaten path? Check out the Freedom Center, home to the Chicago Tribune’s printing and distributing operations. For 25 years, this 940,000-square-foot (286,500-square-meter) facility next to the Chicago River has been producing as many as 70,000 newspapers per hour on huge presses for 1.7 million readers daily and 2.7 million on Sunday. (Until 1982, the paper was printed in the east wing of the Tribune Tower.) The Chicago Tribune company, along with other media businesses it operates, reaches approximately 60 percent of adults in Chicagoland every week.

Freedom Center got its name through an employee competition. Casey Bukro, who still works in the editorial department, suggested the name because of the building’s commitment to the freedom of the press. It is home to about 1400 employees, about half of the Chicago Tribune staff. The plant is responsible for the Chicago Tribune, RedEye, Hoy, and the Midwest edition of The New York Times.

Freedom CenterTake the opportunity to find out what goes into producing a newspaper. Free tours of the Freedom Center are available on weekdays, just call ahead to reserve your spot. This is a “factory” tour, so dress accordingly, and leave the little ones (kids under 10) with the ‘sitter. The one-hour tour covers all aspects of production. Every weekday, up to 20 railroad cars full of paper (mostly recycled) are delivered. From the observation deck inside the plant, you’ll see gigantic black-and-white and color tower presses printing, cutting, and folding all that paper. And in the packaging area, you’ll notice advertising sections being inserted, and papers being bundled for delivery. I remember taking this tour when I was a teenager as part of a school trip, and I found the whole thing fascinating. A souvenir newspaper (with headlines from years past) was handed out at the end, which I kept for years afterward.

Freedom Center tours (free!): 777 W Chicago Ave; 312-222-2116
Tours take place at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
Public trans: Bus # 8, 66

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POSTED IN: Architecture & Attractions

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