Monday, February 28, 2011
So, apropos of nothing, do you like what you see here? Know someone who likes to look at fabtastic photos of awesomeriffic cars? Then hustle on over to Doug's Used Cars, where you'll find images like this one, for sale even, to fill the blank space on the wall of that gearhead in your life. Don't know a gearhead? No problem! We've got other stuff over there too!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Simon's is an Andersonville institution, a classic bar that-naturally-features a few Swedish favorites like Pripp's Lager, aquavit, glogg, and of course, Schlitz beer. It's been there since the 30's and features decor inspired by the S.S. Normandie-it's said that most of the clientele of Simon's couldn't afford to sail on the famed liner, so the bar was styled to allow patrons the feeling of being onboard. It's an excellent tavern, very homey.
And, this being Neon Friday, it has an awesome sign hanging out front, in blue and yellow of course. Oh, and the fish with the Martini? Pickled herring. Geddit?
Thursday, February 24, 2011
As early as the 1940's, the Near South Side neighborhood was already starting to decline, but Reese, along with IIT and Mercy Catholic Hospital, opted to stay in the area and promote urban renewal rather than abandon the neighborhood. From the 50's on, Michael Reese Hospital purchased adjacent properties, eventually ending up with several clinics and pavilions on the campus. I remember seeing it when it was open, and it was a pretty big place.
By the 1990's, Reese had become a for-profit hospital, and this presaged the beginning of the end for the facility. Running costs, particularly physical plant costs, were considerably higher than newer, more modern hospitals, and many of the older buildings fell into disuse and disrepair. Hospital records were stored on pallets in unused clinics, and by 2007 Michael Reese had reduced capacity to just 150 beds. By 2008 Reese was closed for good.
Being over a century old, the Reese campus has-or had-many buildings of architectural interest. The older buildings, particularly the Rosthchild Nurses' Residence and the main hospital building boasted lots of ornate architectural detail, particularly in the main building's common areas. The campus' signature feature, however, are the late 40's additions designed to a master plan devised by Walter Gropius. Most of the new buildings, while designed by local Chiacgo architects, show a strong Gropius influence. Demolition of the campus started in 2009, in preparation for the-since canceled-2016 Chicago Olympics. The Michael Reese property was to be the Olympic Village.
This is the back side of the main building, visible from across the old South Shore tracks in back of McCormick Place.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I like this one-it's got an old-timey feel, don't ya think?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This is another one of those shots that shows just what I like about TtV photography. It's essentially a picture of a reflection, as this is what's on the mirror inside one of my dusty old Full-Vues, which is directly viewable from the glass window on the top of the camera. It's very analogue, like looking at a projection.
Monday, February 21, 2011
The progenitors of these cars can be traced back to the Indy racers of the 30's, as the cars began to get lower and faster, and the end of the "junk formula" that brought about the rebirth of purpose built, purebred racing cars. Postwar, Frank Kurtis became the king of Champ Cars, building cars suited for all classes, from quarter midgets up to the big Indy cars. His cars were always beautifully built and rugged, and generally ran some version of the Offy mill.
A.J. Watson first came to prominence in American racing in the early 50's, finally winning the 500 as crew chief for the John Zink team. The team was running Kurtis chassis, and for '56 the team decided to let Watson design their own car. Based on a Kurtis style spaceframe, Watson did a Chapman and "added lightness" by eliminating what he felt were unnecessary brackets and structure, as well as redesigning the steering system and using lightweight materials in several areas. Topped off with a sleek, Larry Shinoda designed ally body, the Watson looked fantastic and was fast, right out of the box.
Watson continued to refine the same basic design until 1963, pioneering the use of fiberglass bodywork, and 23 examples of the roadster emerged from his shops in Los Angeles. Like earlier Kurtis designs, Watson roadsters continued to race for several years, the final appearance at Indy being in 1966. A.J. Watson eventually moved his shop to Speedway, Indiana, and has even built a few more roadsters, as they've proven to be so popular.
Friday, February 18, 2011
The Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific was a classic Midwestern railroad, famed for it's "Rocket" passenger trains, as well as being one of the roads that handled the Golden State Limited from Chicago to Los Angeles. However, declining revenues throughout the fifties and sixties, as well as having routes that were doubled by the Burlington Road, caused the Rock Island to slide into bankruptcy, and by 1980 was out of business for good.
The New York, Chicago, and St. Louis was better known as the "Nickel Plate" because of the road's smooth riding rails. Primarily an eastern carrier, the Nickel Plate ran from New York to Chicago, and was renowned for it's use of steam well into the postwar diesel era. However, like so many mid-sized railroads in America, declining revenues forced a merger with the stronger Norfolk & Western, and the Nickel Plate disappeared in 1964.
The title comes, of course, from the folk classic Rock Island Line, by Kelly Pace, and popularized by Leadbelly and Lonnie Donegan. Originally recorded by John Lomax, and sung by Pace and his fellow inmates at an Alabama prison, the song tells the story of a train operator who smuggled pig iron by claiming he had nothing but livestock.
Get your ticket at the station!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
One of my favorite recent finds.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I've never seen one quite like this, and more importantly I've never seen one with the fifties Squirt logo on it either. It's a sticker, and unfortunately it seems that someone has tried to peel it off sometime in the distant past. Too bad-it may not be original but it added some interest to the machine.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
This week's subject is a barn and silo complex in rural Illinois, along the Lincoln Highway. I've passed this place numerous times, but have never managed to get a really good shot of it until recently. The recent heavy snowfalls and cold temperatures have left an excellent blanket of the white stuff along the fields. I think it's a remarkably pretty scene. The buildings appear to be abandoned-the nearest one is open on the sides and appears to contain only garbage, although the snow had drifted mightily so I'll probably have to go back and investigate again when it's warmer.
This is an interesting TtV shot. I don't usually shoot into the sun with this setup, because the plastic lenses of my trusty Spartus Full-Vue craze badly, and tends to show up the weird double reflections of the crazed mirror. But I was trying to do a TtV version of a photo I'd taken earlier-I'm not sure if I quite succeeded, but I do like the outcome.
Monday, February 14, 2011
This one is a B-61 tractor, probably a late fifties example if I'm not mistaken. I like the B series trucks-they have a really nice, late 40's style to them, with lots of nice brightwork. The cab is also quite small by modern standards-about the size of a pickup cab-and it's quite Spartan inside, with plain vinyl trim and lots of painted meta, all in traditional Mack green. The outside's orange, and pretty faded, but the truck does run. I'd love to see it restored again.
Friday, February 11, 2011
This is the DeKalb Theater in DeKalb, Illinois. I know absolutely nothing about this theater, except that when I shot this back in '09 it wasn't in use and was looking kind of shabby. I've been past since and there seems to be something going on there, but I haven't been able to stop and look. Either way, the DeKalb has this excellent vintage sign out front-surely it deserves to be restored to it's former glory?
Union Station is also a well known landmark in the city, and it's grand entrance staircase is a popular setting for television and movies set in the city.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
This is the Nebraska Zephyr, which is a hybrid of sorts. The locomotive is an E5 (the only one to survive, in fact), with the following cars being one of the original articulated Nebraska Zephyr sets. The Nebraska run got two sets, and all of the cars were named after classical deities-the "Train of the Gods" and the "Train of the Goddesses". This happens to be the latter, and the cars are called Venus, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, and Juno. Two other cars, Psyche and Diana, were removed from service sometime in the fifties.
I photographed the Zephyr at the Illinois Railway Museum, where it has lived since it's retirement in 1968. It's a beautiful sight, and I'm glad that the museum still runs it regularly.
Monday, February 7, 2011
This particular Imperial is a '61, probably the most iconic version. It features the biggest fins (the last year for fins on Imperials), complete with characteristic gunsight taillights. More strikingly, Exner added separate, podded headlights to the front end, giving a truly unique look to the car. This style lasted for only one season, before the fins were cut off and the headlights returned to a more normal position.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Y'know, a lot of people think of one thing when they think of neon signs-big glitzy things like you see in Vegas or something. Which is cool, but misses the fact that for many years, neon signs were everywhere, the best way to advertise your business day or night, and that they ranged from complex marquees to simpler ones that had a name and maybe some chasing lights. The fancy ones seem to stick around, but it's those simpler signs that are becoming a rarity.
This is such a sign, in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. It's advertising a drugstore that's still very much in business (and they still light the sign at night!!). I like this sign for a couple of reasons-for starters it's showing it's age, and it's clearly been there a long time. I like long-standing businesses, they really help make a neighborhood unique. I also like the "Apteka-Botica" legend at the bottom. It shows you just how long Barry's has been in business-"apteka" is Polish for drugstore, and "botica" is Spanish. It's a definite reminder of Wicker Park's Polish and Latino heritage-Poles started living in the area in the late 1890's, and the provisional government of Poland met there during the First World War. Immigration rose during WW2, with an estimated 150,000 people arriving between 1939 and 1959.
Things started to change in the early 1960's, with the arrival of the Kennedy Expressway, which displaced quite a few residents. Larger number of Puerto Rican and other Latinos began moving to Wicker Park around the same time-less than 1 percent of the neighborhood's residents were Latino in 1960, but this grew to 40% by 1970. I figure this sign dates from the late fifties or early sixties, when these two diverse groups were still largely in evidence in Wicker Park.
Wicker Park underwent more changes-like much of Chicago people fled the city during the 70's and 80's, but the neighborhood has undergone some improvements in the last decade or so. It's now a trendy place to live, with shopping, restaurants, and concert venues all in the neighborhood. Plus some vintage shops, such as Barry's.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Although the sign is clearly a sixties or seventies item, the building itself dates to the 1920's, and features some really nice terra cotta details.