Remembering Children’s Memorial Hospital as demolition begins

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CHICAGO -- Children’s Memorial Hospital is now vacant, but it was once an important structure in Lincoln Park. The main hospital was built in the 1960s. So many children were cared for there.

The six-acre site has been vacant since 2012, and soon it will be gone forever. Developers plan to erect luxury apartments in the area. The hope is residents can begin moving in by late 2018.

Early this morning the demolition got underway. First to go: what used to be the Emergency Room. The work will go on for six months.

As this site transitions to apartments, many people have been stopping by to reflect.

“When I saw on Facebook that the demolition is happening I told my husband I need a box of Kleenex and two beers, and I have to go down and I have to watch the place that gave us the most joy because it saved our son’s life,” said Bridget Schank.

When Bridget’s son Jack needed a liver transplant in 2011, doctors at Children’s Memorial performed the operation.
“The transplant coordinator, Ryan, came out, he said, ‘your husband’s liver arrived from Northwestern and your son’s liver is out,’ and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘never in my life would I ever imagined those things being said together,’” she remembered.

For Julie Riffle, the hospital is also special. She traveled 60 miles for one last look.

“This place has been a part of my life since before I can remember; I came here as a patient in 1966 when I was 3 months old,” she said.

Riffle says when she was a child she had a cancer tumor the size of an orange. Doctors at Children’s Memorial treated her for 14 years.

“They did a lot for me and they saved my life,” she said.

The demolition will take six months. Construction is expected to start in December, and the $350 million development project could take more than two years.

People who live around here are little worried after developers warned the construction will likely lead to rat issues. The crews here will place bait boxes around the perimeter to help.

And at the new children's hospital, known as Lurie Children's in Streeterville, new memories are being made.