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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Isaacson & Stein Fish Building Sleeps With The Fishes, Demolished For 19-Story Office Project

"It smells like seafood," one West Looper said. It should. The fish market operated at Fulton Market and Halsted for 80 years.

The old Isaacson & Stein Fish at 800 W. Fulton Market was razed this summer.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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FULTON MARKET — Cordoned off by a chain-link construction fence at Fulton Market and Halsted streets, demo equipment removed bricks from the nearly leveled building that once housed the Isaacson and Stein fish market for eight decades.

“It smells like seafood,” Samantha Worth said, pushing a stroller past the site Wednesday morning. The lingering scent, she said, was an indication of just how long the business — the city’s oldest fresh fish wholesaler — was part of Fulton Market.

Earlier this week, crews began razing buildings on a block-long stretch bound by Halsted, Fulton Market, Green and Wayman streets to make way for a 19-story office building.

In addition to the old Isaacson & Stein Fish market at 800-810 W. Fulton St., the site was home to other businesses, including meatpacker Morreale Meat and the Mid nightclub.

Developer Thor Equities was given the green light by City Council earlier this month to move forward with the project, despite some West Loop residents’ concerns about congestion and pedestrian safety in the booming area.

The old Isaacson and Stein building is being demolished to make way for a 19-story office tower.

RELATED: 18-Story Tower Would Bring More Offices To Fulton Market Gateway, But Neighbors Concerned About Traffic, Safety

RELATED: West Loop Neighbor Groups Split On 18-Story Office Tower At Fulton Market Gateway

In 2016, after more than 80 years in business, Isaacson and Stein drained its fish tanks and left the West Loop.

“Thanks for the years of patronage and all the great memories. We’re going to miss you all!” owners wrote at the time in a Facebook post.

The company simultaneously announced it had merged with Supreme Lobster in Villa Park. 

Founded by Lou Isaacson and Willie and Ike Stein, Isaacson and Stein Fish Co. was bought by Ben Willner and Milton Block in 1958, according to the company’s website. 

Each week, the store sold 10 tons of fish, and more than 75 varieties of seafood, imported from Greece, Brazil, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and all over the Atlantic Ocean.

Salmon and other fish for sale at Isaacson and Stein.

In September 2016, the company sold its buildings to R2 Companies, a West Loop development firm. The property was later acquired by Thor Equities.

Later this summer, Thor Equities will begin construction on the 300-foot-tall, brick-and-glass office tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Thor Equities plans to build an 18-story office tower at 800 W. Fulton Market.

Worth, the Fulton Market resident, said she didn’t know a 19-story office building was set to replace the popular wholesale seafood shop.

“That’s kind of a bummer,” she said, noting the building will stand in stark contrast to other surrounding buildings and tower over the Fulton Market sign.

Samantha Worth walks past Fulton Market as crews level the former Isaacson and Stein building.

But Fulton Market is transforming and office space has become the “hot ticket” for the neighborhood, she said.

Worth, who now lives in the West Loop, remembered living in the suburbs as a kid and making the drive with her family to Fulton Market to stock up on seafood from Isaacson and Stein. 

“Watching this all come down is devastating because there is nothing like it and there never will [be again],” she said. “Because quite frankly those businesses have been pushed out.”

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