Category Archives: Chicago Architecture Photography
Urban farm, it almost sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me, it isn’t. These farms are sprouting up (no pun intended) all over Chicago and other urban areas, and represent an efficient way to re-purpose under-utilized warehouse space in the city, often in economically distressed areas. Plus, they offer a tremendous opportunity for small-scale organic farmers to ply their trade in a supportive and mega-green environment.
I recently had the occasion to photograph two such urban farms: The Plant and Iron Street Farm. The former calls itself “a net-zero energy vertical farm and food business operation” whose purpose is to “promote closed-loop food production and sustainable economic development through education and research.” Now that’s a mouthful (no pun intended). And the later is a “seven-acre site on Chicago’s south side that produces local, healthy, and sustainable food year-round with a focus on serving, training, and engaging vulnerable populations.” Urban farms produce a wide range of products including cheese, vegetables, mushrooms, honey, beer, compost, and even fish. I suspect when we sang “Old McDonald had a farm” this wasn’t exactly the type of farm we were referring to.
I am fortunate to live just a few blocks from one of the world’s great universities. Students lovingly describe this institution of higher learning as the place where “fun comes to die”. Personally, I think they make this proclamation to mislead their parents so they can justify the $40,000 per year expense. Nestled in the leafy neighborhood of Hyde Park–home of Barack Obama and the first A-Bomb–the university is a mix of Gothic and modern architecture. There are more Nobel Prize winners here than neighborhood bars–how many large universities can make that claim? In fact U of C has the most Nobel winners of any school in the world. The university offers a never-ending subject for my photography as new buildings appear on a regular basis, and each season brings new discoveries.
Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, each with it’s own ethnic identity. It’s no surprise that public art appears on walls throughout the city representing the local culture. Here is just a sampling of murals (or you may call it graffiti) in some of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods.
The Chicago Cultural Center (previously the main branch of the Chicago Public Library) houses two eye-popping domes. This one is the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Rotunda, and the other was designed by Louis Tiffany. This room is a memorial to the Union soldiers who gave their lives in the Civil War; it’s one of the most beautiful and peaceful rooms in Chicago.
The Midway Plaisance is a mile-long green belt bisecting the University of Chicago campus. This area was adjacent to the World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893–if you read “Devil in the White City” you know all about this area. The original Ferris Wheel might have been located exactly where this photo was taken. Today, this is the world’s best place for people watching of Nobel Prize winners. Hyde Park is the part of Chicago where I live as well as my friend Barack Obama.
This is a test photo for a client, they needed something different and creative. The end product would be a print in a hotel. So many possibilities with Photoshop–maybe I got a little carried away, but it was fun.
When does graffiti become a mural or a work of art? I came upon this artist one morning in Rogers Park, on the far north side. I’m really not sure if his work was sanctioned or condoned by the local authorities, or perhaps they just didn’t see him because of the camouflage jacket he was wearing. And I guess I will never know.
Wicker Park on the northwest side is one Chicago’s most colorful neighborhoods. Teeming with artists, students, hipsters, hippies, and members of the 47% that Romney says are sponging off the government, the area surrounding Six Corners (Damen/Milwaukee/North) has more tattoos per capita than anyplace in the known world. Funky shops, funky restaurants, funky bars, and funky bookstores–this area can only be described as funky.