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4753 North Ravenswood Avenue

You’re looking at 4753 N Ravenswood. A building here was once owned by Abbott Labs. The company, which is reported to have about 90,000 employees and $35 billion in revenues, was once located on this strip of light industrial buildings.

The company was founded in 1888 by a drug store owner and physician name Dr. Wallace C Abbott.

Abbott used plant alkoloids such as morphine, quinine, strychnine and codeine, in tiny pills that allowed for more consistent and effective dosing.

Today Abbott Labs is known for producing the first HIV blood screening test, Ensure and many other drugs, treatments and products.

The 1905 Abbott fire was the final straw for neighbors tired of fires and fumes from Abbott Labs.

The 1905 Abbott fire threatened neighbors tired of fires and fumes from Abbott Labs. Credit: Ravenswood Lake View Historical Association Collection

But it wasn’t a very good neighbor.

Fumes from the labs, located here, often caused workers to have to be sent home ill. And the chemicals, beside causing unpleasant smells, sometimes burst into flames, threatening the wooden homes located on the quiet streets behind the plant.

For example on November 9, 1905 a fire in a printing plant owned by Abbott Labs threatened the neighborhood. According to fire officials a shift in the wind could easily have engulfed the pharmaceuticals lab and its chemicals.

Abbott Labs lost $200,000 in the fire. In 1925 the company departed Chicago for the suburbs.


Continue the tour to 4646 North Hermitage Avenue.

  1. Walk south about 486′ to the first cross street, Leland Avenue.
  2. Turn left. Proceed to the next street, Hermitage, a distance of about 427′. You’ll cross a service way called an alley.
  3. At Hermitage Street, turn right. The next building will be on your right in about 157′.
  4. Click the ‘Continue the Tour’ button below when you’ve reached your destination.


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