Monday, January 31, 2011


Highboy, originally uploaded by William 74.
Originally called "gow jobs" (rhymes with "go"), hot rods have been a part of the automotive landscape almost since the invention of the automobile itself (what's that they said? The first car race happened not long after the second guy built one?). The first rods started appearing in the late 1930's, but hot rodding didn't enter it's golden era until after the war, when all those guys came home, got jobs, bought old cars, and started fooling around with them.

In the postwar era, hot rods were exclusively prewar cars, usually Fords, and most frequently coupes or roadsters-sedans were less popular, because they were bigger, heavier, and usually more expensive anyway. The recipe is simple-get a car, take off the fenders and bumpers, add new wheels and tires, pop in a new V-8 engine (or go to town on the one you already had-plenty of guys ran fast four bangers too), and if you had some money spray on some new paint. Get a crash helmet, write your numbers on the doors in shoe polish, and you were ready for the lakes!

This rod happens to be a '32 Ford. The Deuce, in both roadster and coupe forms, was one of the most popular bases for a hot rod. It had that magic combination of style, size, weight, and ease of modification that made it a perfect base for a hot rod-plus it was available from the factory with a V-8 engine, saving you the trouble of fitting one yourself. So popular, that there are more '32 Ford hot rods than Ford ever actually built cars-today you can buy entire Deuce shells and frames and build one from the ground up. That's staying power!

So, a couple of questions. Like cars? Gotta spot on the wall that needs filling? Maybe in your home, or office, or out in your man cave? Well, we here at View. Found. have you covered-our chief snapper (the guy who shot the fab image you've been enjoying) has a a brand new website, and it has a whole section devoted to cars, where you'll find images like this one for sale, ready to frame, hang, and enjoy! Check it out!

Friday, January 28, 2011


The Allerton Hotel #2, originally uploaded by William 74.
A little bit of altitude for this week's Neon Friday!

Opened at the height of the Roarin' Twenties, Chicago's Allerton Hotel has been a fixture ever since. One of the first skyscrapers to open on Michigan Avenue, the Allerton was originally a residential "club hotel", with over 1,000 rooms for both men and women, in addition to sports leagues, a library, a solarium, and it's own in-house newspaper.

But the Allerton's most famous feature was probably the swanky Tip-Top-Tap lounge, located on the building's 23rd floor, and which quickly became known as one of downtown's hot spots. Although the Tip-Top-Tap closed in '61, the room gained more notoriety as the Cloud Room, especially when Don McNeil began broadcasting his show from the lounge. The 23rd floor went through another name change, becoming the Renaissance Ballroom in the late 1990's, after the Allerton Hotel was designated a landmark building and underwent a $60 million renovation.

Amazingly, the hotel still retains it's original name, without any corporate re-branding in sight. More amazingly, the long-gone Tip-Top-Tap's sign is still hanging, fully operational, and illuminated every night. Fortunately, with the Allerton's status as a landmark, this one'll be around for a while.

Apropos of nothing, but do you like what you see here? Wish you could have something like that to brighten up the blank walls in your home? Or your office? Or your home office? Know someone who would like something like...okay you see where I'm going with this. Well, we here at View. Found. have got you covered! Our chief photog and scribbler (a.k.a. Yours Truly) is offering pictures like the one you've just been enjoying, as well as other cool things, over at our new website! Stop 'round and have a look-like all good lounges we're open late!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Route of the Hiawathas

Railway Viaduct-Richmond, IL, originally uploaded by William 74.

Regular readers (both of you) will have noticed that I have a thing for old signs, and you may have noticed that I like trains too. Well, here's one that combines both!

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad operated in the Midwest and Northwest from 1847 until it's merger into the Soo Line in 1986. The Milwaukee Road was well known for it's Hiawatha passenger trains, which were renowned for the quality and speed of their service. Most of the Hiawatha passenger cars were built by the Milwaukee in it's own shops, and provided some of the most innovative and interesting cars to ride American rails.

Aside from the Hiawathas, the Milwaukee was also famous for it's extensive electrified operations, between Montana and Idaho, and a separate line through Washington. This line went all the way to Seattle, allowing the Milwaukee to easily reach the west coast with the Olympian Hiawatha.

Of course, the railroad didn't survive on luxury passenger trains alone-the Milwaukee did a lot of freight hauling as well, on both the main lines and on branch lines all over the upper Midwest. This is one of them, a single track line near Richmond, Illinois, just a few minutes south of the Illinois-Wisconsin border. I've seen a couple of these in the area, but this one's by far the best. The viaduct dates from 1900 (if the date cast into the concrete abutment is to be believed), but I don't think the signwriting is that old.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Through the Lens

Through the Lens, originally uploaded by William 74.

Ever wonder what it would look like if a vintage interurban trolley car was taking your photograph? Now you know! Sort of a reverse TtV thing-the back of the camera is open and the shutter is open. I forget how I came up with this idea-probably just sitting in front of the teevee goofing around with an old film camera. Anyway I thought it was an idea worth pursuing-I've taken a few shots this way. It suits things that are really large-like trains.

The camera is actually my very first one-a Pentax K1000 that I bought at Service Merchandise in, like 1990. It got dropped and broken about a year later, and rather than fix it I bought a used K1000 (that I used up until 200-something) and put this one in a drawer somewhere. I rediscovered it a few years ago and thought it was a good candidate for this idea, so I.....(sensitive readers should stop reading now) ....cut the back of it off with a pair of tin snips.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Route of the 400's

Route of the 400's, originally uploaded by William 74.
I've shown you this bridge before, but here it is again, courtesy of the old Full-Vue. I like the sort of beat up, vintage, stored in a shoebox in the attic look of this.

I really wanted a shot of this with a train going over, but I waited around in the freezing cold for a good hour or so before I just gave up. I'm sure I'll have another go at it and be boring you with it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Black Plate

Black Plate, originally uploaded by William 74.

Period correct license plates are another thing that make a nice finishing touch to an old car, even though they're not always legal for road use. The most popular vintage plates are the iconic California "black plates", which were used from 1963 to 1969. The phrase "original black plate car" is often heard in old car circles, to denote a car that spent it's entire life in the state (even though a car purchased in, say, Kansas could be brought in and registered with the same plates as a new car). In any event, the presence of a black plate will at least denote a car that's been in the state since the mid sixties, as they're still valid today, as long as they've not been transferred to a new car.

There's a big market for old black plates (heck, for old plates for any state), just because they look cool.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hanging With The Cool Kids

It's that time of the week again, gang-Neon Friday!

Established in the early 60's, George Mitchell's Artists Snack Shop has been a fixture in Chicago's art district ever since. Located on Michigan Avenue, directly across from Grant Park, the shop's outdoor seating offers great people watching during the summer (heck, the seats in the windows do the same thing). It's a pretty cool little restaurant, and of course, it has that awesome neon sign on the front.

Apropos of nothing, but we here at View. Found. have a little announcement to make. Do you like what you see here? Are you in need of something new to spice up your office? Or your home? Or your home office? Well, we've got you covered-our chief photographer and writer (in other words, me!) has a brand new website, with this photo and a bunch of other neat stuff for sale! Head on over to William Hopkins Photography to see more!

On that note, we (okay, I) hope you have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Sunset, originally uploaded by William 74.

There is a pretty large community of ducks and geese that live near me. I never really noticed them before but I started walking my dog down by the river and there's always some ducks and geese around. They're very camera shy-whenever I've tried to photograph them they turn around and walk, swim, or fly away. This is probably the best shot I've ever gotten.

Funnily enough, they're not afraid of my dog!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sterling Theater

Sterling Theater-Sterling, IL, originally uploaded by William 74.

Before radio and movies gained prominence, live entertainment was a preferred leisure activity for many Americans, and most cities of size had at least one theater devoted to live entertainment. Situated on the Rock River, Sterling, Illinois was one such town. Originally opened in 1924 as a vaudeville venue, the Sterling Theater seated 1200 and was fairly successful until a fire damaged it in the early 40's.

Reopened in 1944, the new Sterling was designed in an Art Moderne style, and featured a large neon marquee and a unique lighted tower. It remained open as a movie house until 2008, and remained relatively unchanged for all that time. One unique detail that survives from the Sterling's '44 reboot is this cool terrazzo entryway. The floor actually continues into the lobby, which is still very Moderne in it's style. I have no idea what this font is called, but I like it.

Once again, it pays to look down once in a while!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Through the Viewfinder Tuesday!

The Mill Flower, originally uploaded by William 74.

Another week, another TtV Tuesday! This week's entry is, let's face it, kind of weird. Is it the wreck of a steam train? Some sort of oil well? Aliens? Nope, none of the above.

It's a bunch of gears, drive wheels, and shafts from a former grain mill on the banks of the Fox River, in Geneva, IL. They've been arranged into a large sculpture, called The Mill Flower. It's on the site of a mill that burned to the ground back in the fifties, if I'm not mistaken. The gears sat in this spot for quite some time-I've seen photos of them just sitting on the ground-before being turned into art. In a nice little bit of historic trivia, they're not too far from home, having been made by the Link-Belt company in faraway Chicago.

I like this shot-it just looks kind of spooky, don't it?

Monday, January 17, 2011


Clipped, originally uploaded by William 74.

Originally an upper level model in the Packard range, by the early 50's the Clipper was more of a mid-priced model in the company's model hierarchy. Packard president James J. Nance felt the Clipper range (and the 200 series that preceded it) diluted the company's image of building high-class luxury cars, and set about divorcing the range from the rest of the company's models. The Clipper range was to be a nameplate unto itself, free to fight the likes of Oldsmobile, DeSoto, and Mercury without tarnishing Packard's image.

It was not to be-Packard dealers balked at the idea of losing their best selling cars, so the Clipper was introduced as a Packard in 1953, before being given a makeover in 1955 that produced the model's characteristic hooded headlights and some excellent two tone paint jobs. The '55s also finally received new suspension and a horsepower hike in the form of a new V-8 engine. In all, it was a pretty nice package that didn't hurt Packard's image at all.

The '55 and '56 Clippers were also the last ones to be built at Packard's famous plant on East Grand Avenue in Detroit. Packard had merged with Studebaker a couple of years previously, and for 1957 Packards would be Studes with some styling differences, and would be built in South Bend, Indiana.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Golden Pheasant

Another week, another Neon Friday! And, another old school restaurant to visit.

Mack's Golden Pheasant has been a fixture in suburban Elmhurst, Illinois since 1948. Actually the roots of the restaurant go back to the 30's, when owners Frank and Mae Mack bought a tavern on the corner of routes 83 and 64, which they expanded to a full restaurant after the war. Patterned after an Austrian chalet, the restaurant proved popular and did great business until a fire in 1962 gutted the building. Frank and his sons rebuilt, in the same chalet style, and the restaurant continues to thrive today, still in the hands of the Mack family.

Anyway, the restaurant is pretty neat, and the sign out front is in excellent shape, and is still lit up at night. Incidentally, the Golden Pheasant got it's name from Frank Mack's hobby as an exotic bird collector. For many years the restaurant's windows looked out over this menagerie, including a golden pheasant, of course!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

North Western Station

Chicago's North Western Station, on Madison, was a classic big city rail terminal. A big Renaissance Revival building, massive and classy, it featured all the luxuries a long distance traveler (or a commuter from the suburbs) needed at the end of their journey. Along with most other major railways, the CNW ended intercity service in the early seventies, so the only trains using the old station were local commuter trains. It was demolished in the early 80's to make way for the Citigroup Center, but the commuter station remained in use and was renamed the Ogilvie Transportation Center. It says something about the old station, and the Chicago and North Western, that you can still tell a cabbie in Chicago that you need to get to North Western Station, you'll get there.

A portion of the original building still exists-the old powerhouse and it's associated viaduct still stand, in use as office and retail space. It's heritage is evident by these very old CNW crests that decorate the powerhouse (one is even prominent on the end of the building, and is only visible if you're on a train). If I'm not mistaken, they date from the station's 1911 opening.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

South Shore

South Shore, originally uploaded by William 74.

I really enjoy photographing old rail cars and engines. There's just so much detail and texture to explore, and there are often really cool signs and logos as well. Plus, they move, so they're always (okay, often) in a new place, new scenery, new lighting. Or, it could be I'm just a big dork who likes trains. Whatever.

This is one of the South Shore interurban cars at the Fox River Trolley Museum. They're not currently operative (thus missing on the whole moving thing) but they are eminently photogenic.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Still Standing

Windmill TtV, originally uploaded by William 74.
My favorite semi-abandoned windmill out in the country. It's not too far from home, and you wouldn't know it from this view but it's surrounded on two sides by a subdivision and by busy roads on the other two. I've shot it before-it's proximity to the city of Batavia makes me wonder if it's a locally made Challenge mill. Amazingly it still spins-albeit unevenly due to broken vanes-and it's kind of creepy when you're standing in this field and you start to hear this gentle creaking as the wind kicks up.

Notice the rubble in the bottom right corner. This windmill was surrounded by a small stand of trees, with an old wire fence collapsing around it. Underneath the brush were old concrete foundations, as well as a cistern beneath the mill. But the trees (many of which were dead anyway) have been cut down, the brush cleared away, and the concrete torn up. I fear it won't be long now before the mill comes down too.

Given the patented Spartus Full-Vue dust 'n' crud treatment.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Chevy, originally uploaded by William 74.

Another Tri-Five Chevy. This one's a '55 convertible, the first year of the famous Chevrolet triumvirate. Personally, I've always preferred the simpler look of the '55 to the more famous '57, which has a glitzier grille, more chrome, and bigger, pointier fins. That said, I wouldn't mind a '56 either....they're all pretty cool!

This car was nicely presented, without a ton of cheesy gewgaws like fake drive-in baskets, drive in theater speakers blasting music, or cardboard cutouts of Elvis and Marilyn. Just nice two tone paint and period correct license plates.

I took this at a car show at the Illinois Rail Museum, and liked the old engine parked behind it, as well as the old trolley passing further out.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Seven Dwarfs

The Seven Dwarfs, originally uploaded by William 74.
The Seven Dwarfs is a restaurant in Wheaton, Illinois. I remember driving past this a lot when I was younger, but I don't think we ever ate there. It's been around for yonks, and is a typical sort of dive diner except for the Snow White themed murals on the walls. And this excellent sign out front.

When I shot this the sign was in pretty poor shape-paint peeling, neon out, just generally shabby (the dwarf's arm is animated, but only one worked on each side, blinking on and off). But I went by recently and the sign seems to have been repainted, and more of the neon works! I bet it'll work even better once it warms up again (something I've noticed about old neon signs is that they are sometimes half out when it's very cold).

Edited to correct links.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ravenswood A

Ravenswood A, originally uploaded by William 74.

This is the end unit of a pair of former Chicago Transit Authority 6000 series railcars. Once a common sight on the city's famous elevated tracks, this one's at the Fox River Trolley Museum in Elgin, Illinois. It's presented in the CTA's classic cream, orange, and green livery. I've always liked it, even though I'm not old enough to have seen them in action-it always reminds me of The Bob Newhart Show, which features one prominently in the opening credits.

This one's got a destination board for the Ravenswood line, which we now know as the Brown Line. I always liked taking the Brown Line north to Kimball-it goes through some cool neighborhoods on it's way, and sometimes I would even jump on it at Belmont just for the views as it split from the Red Line tracks and headed towards the Merchandise Mart.

This train is also an A train. For many years the CTA ran what they called "Skip Stop" service. Certain stations would be designated A or B stops (sometimes both), and during rush hour A or B trains would only stop at their respective stations. Instituted in 1948, this system lasted on some lines-including the Ravenswood-well into the 1990's.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

You Should Be A Member

In 1902-the dawn of motoring-several regional motor clubs banded together to form the American Automobile Association-better known as the Triple-A. Founded in response to the lack of roads and highways suitable for automobile use, the Triple-A flourished, going on to publish maps, offer roadside assistance, driver training, safety information, and sanctioning motor sports.

The Chicago Motor Club was one of the founding clubs back in '02. You used to see these CMC signs all over the city and suburbs, especially on Club sanctioned garages. Today I think most of them have disappeared-this one's in an alley in Uptown on what I think was a service station back in the thirties. I've seen porcelain signs on the shield logo, usually at the flea market or places like Portillo's, but never in situ. Although I have seen quite a few member stickers in the windows of classic cars.

This sign is pretty well known, and is easily seen from the Red Line-because of this it took me months to finally get around to going round the back of this building and shoot it-it was always just there.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Be Sure With Pure

This is the restored silo at Meadowdale International Raceway in Carpentersville, Illinois. It's known as the "Pure Oil Silo" for obvious reasons, and when it was saved a few years ago, the original signwriting was restored, complete with Pure logo.

The Pure Oil Company was founded in 1914, bringing together three different oil companies, and by the 1920's had relocated it's headquarters to Chicago, with a tech center in Carpentersville. The company was already involved in motorsports, as a main supplier for NASCAR, so they were an ideal supporter for Leonard Besinger's track out in the suburbs. Pure gasoline was provided from pumps in the infield of the track, remnants of which still stand.

Pure was purchased by the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) in 1965, and the Pure name was phased out throughout the decade, to be replaced by the Union 76 name. Quite a few old Pure stations are still around-they're distinctive looking cottage style stations, and I still remember our local one being a Union 76 station in the 80's, before Unocal pulled out of the Midwestern market. It's a garden center now, but still retains it's cottage-style charm.

I like this shot of the restored silo, with the TtV treatment. I think it gives it a period photo look.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Open Road

Open Road, originally uploaded by William 74.

Not really, though. This is an abandoned section of Route 66 in central Illinois, somewhere around the town of Dwight. There are quite a few places where these unused stretches of pavement parallel the active roads now signposted as Route 66 (or more often "Old Route 66"). During the road's lifespan, sections of Route 66 were incorporated into new freeways, usually by adding a second set of lanes parallel to the existing pavement, separated by a median, with one direction of traffic on each set. Eventually, as Route 66 was decommissioned, the older lanes were usually turned into frontage roads or blocked to traffic altogether. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't park your car there and take a photo of it.

I have to admit I was a little bit moved as I wandered around these old stretches of road. I'm a veteran of many family road trips when I was a kid-I think it's very much a shared American experience-and I could, just a bit, imagine driving along Route 66, through small towns and large cities, on my way wherever.

In the end, though, this photo could have been taken anywhere. I mean, it's just a car, parked on a road, on a sunny afternoon.