Thursday, March 31, 2011


Sunset, originally uploaded by William 74.
Fun with silhouettes! I guess that's one nice thing about winter and spring-the trees are still bare and stand out really well against the sky. Particularly a sunset like this one.

Excellent cloud day too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Texaco TtV, originally uploaded by William 74.
TtV Tuesday! This week we have a vintage Texaco sign. Sadly, it's not on a vintage Texaco station somewhere in the desert Southwest, or even at a restored vintage station somewhere along Route 66, but hanging outside a local restaurant.

I suppose I've just ruined it for you!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo, originally uploaded by William 74.
Another week, another Motorcar Monday! This week's entry is another sadly decrepit classic car, a '64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk. The GT Hawk was the final development of the Hawk series, which began production in the mid fifties. By the early sixties Studebaker was in financial difficulties, with declining sales and an aging-if still interesting-product line.

The Hawks were restyled for '61, courtesy of designer Brooks Stevens, and the cars got a cleaner, up to date look. The GT Hawk also had higher performing engines, including supercharged options, and a more luxurious interior. Sadly, it was a case of too little, too late, and in late 1963 Studebaker closed its South Bend plant, and with it ended Hawk production once and for all. Studebaker itself would soldier on for only two more seasons.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Neon Friday!

Drugstore Sign #2b-Chicago, IL, originally uploaded by William 74.
Happy Neon Friday! This week we have another old-school shop sign, from somewhere deep inside Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. I don't know what it is I like about it, other than the fact that it's pleasingly unrestored, yet works just fine (or it did when I saw it last). Naturally, I chose to show it in stunning, lifelike black and white, for that authentic Tech-Pan feel.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Wire, originally uploaded by William 74.
I don't know why, but I like shooting barbed wire fences out in the country. I have several pics of them, from various angles. Silhouettes against the sky. Close ups of the posts. Lines of rusty wire trailing off to the vanishing point. Weeds obscuring the ground. Holding in fields of corn, keeping out strangers.

I have a vague notion as to why I like them-I think it has something to do with the solitude they often evoke.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Koolmotor TtV, originally uploaded by William 74.
Through the Viewfinder Tuesday! This week we have a neato old gas pump for you. It's a Gilbarco Calco-Meter, and if you don't recognize Koolmotor gasoline, don't fret, it's a Cities Service brand. Don't recognize Cities Service? It started off in the early 1900's as a general utility provider, moving into oil and petroleum products in the late teens. Cities Service stations were widespread throughout the east and midwest. In the mid sixties a new gasoline brand was introduced, and is the name we know the company by today-Citgo.

This pump is in front of a local themed restaurant, one of those "crap on the walls" places with a petroliana theme. Sadly, it seems that someone's busted the Koolmotor glass in the front.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Clipped Redux

Clipped, originally uploaded by William 74.
Another day, another sad, decrepit old car. I've visited the Clipper a few times, and shown it here at least once. I can't help but be a little sad at the sight of it, covered in dead leaves and mold, slowly going to ground.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Neon Friday!

Happy Neon Friday! This week's entry is a Chicago classic. "Z" Frank Chevrolet is a well known area dealership, having been in business for what seems like forever (but was really 1936). They were at their Western Avenue location for ages, till they moved in 2009. The old place is (or was) a gold mine of neat old signage-quite a few vintage Chevrolet logos adorned the walls, including the script logo that went out of use in the sixties. But the best bit was the classic neon sign out front, right along the street. It was a beautiful item, a classic slab of Googie signage, and it even worked pretty well at the end (the eye shaped part, with the "available" sign on it, is the street address, 6060). I sorely regret not getting a good shot of this at night.

This sign really should have been saved and moved to the new location.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Colossus of Roads

Colossus of Roads, originally uploaded by William 74.
Often overshadowed by spray painted tags, moniker chalking has a long history in American railroading, going back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Moniker chalking has it's roots in the earliest hobos, itinerant farm workers who hopped freight trains to get from one job to the next. Soon, messages started being scrawled on rail cars, messages about where to be careful and what to expect at the various yards and depots. Along with the important info, the artists began to leave little reminders of themselves, a signature and date, and the tradition was born.

You still see these small tags today, usually in grease pencil or paint pen, and most frequently on older cars. Some of them are years, or even decades old, some of them are still fresh. This happens to be Colossus of Roads, a pretty well known mark. His jaunty cowboy is usually accompanied by a short message-in this case "Summer Complaint-Crimps In Pages". I've no idea what it means, but I like it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We all scream for ice cream!

Cock Robin was a Chicago area chain of ice cream restaurants, and was a fixture for many years. Originally known as Prince Ice Cream, the chain was started in the late 20's in DeKalb, and was renamed Cock Robin Ice Cream in the early 50's. For a time both names were in use, and legend has it that, even though the ice cream was the same, people would say "I don't want that Cock Robin stuff, get me Prince Castle!"

Cock Robin was best known for it's steakburgers, the One-In-A-Million-Malted, and it's square shaped ice cream scoops. By the 50's they were widespread in the area (everyone I know "of a certain age" seems to have eaten at one back in the day), but by the 90's there were only a few left. The last one, in Brookfield, closed in 2006. This one's in Wheaton, and is still open as a burger joint/ice cream shop, but doesn't call itself Cock Robin, even though the sign is still on the top.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Through the Viewfinder Tuesday!

Be Specific, originally uploaded by William 74.
I missed last week, so to make it up to you here's a brand new-ish image! This is the lead unit of a Union Pacific freight train, heading west towards Omaha. There's nothing really special about the subject-I've shot loads of similar photos of similar yellow UP locomotives, and a front threequarters view is pretty much the default for railroad photography. However, this is the very first time I've tried using my TtV setup to shoot a moving train-the awkwardness of a typical contraption, combined with the reversed view, has always put me off. But I seem to have gotten some good results with it, so I'll probably continue with it. Plus, I like the vintage feel.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Chevrolet, originally uploaded by William 74.
There is something a little sad about an abandoned car or truck, particularly one that's still in someone's yard. I can't help but wonder why they're in the state they're in. Did it simply wear out? Some sort of catastrophic mechanical problem? And why are they still sitting there-was there a never-realized plan to fix it?

This is an old Chevrolet truck, and I found it on a farm surrounded by a couple of others of similar vintage. All long disused, all rusty, all sinking into the ground.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Music Box

Opened in August of 1929, the Music Box Theater is a little gem of a place. At a time when the big palaces in Chicago all had seating for 3,000 or so, the Music Box sat a mere 800, giving a much more intimate experience. It was also one of the first theaters in Chicago that was designed expressly for motion pictures-other joints like the Uptown or State-Lake had stages, and were meant to host live performances as well as movies. The Music Box had none of this, although it did have accommodations for an orchestra and an organ-sound films were just starting to become common, but the necessities for silent films were included, just in case that newfangled technology didn't catch on. Amazingly, the Music Box's first known silent film showing-the 1927 classic Wings-wasn't until 1983!

Do you like what you see here? Do you look at these photos and say "Hey, I like this stuff. It'd look pretty rad on my wall!" Well, we've got you covered! Our chief photog has his own website, full of cool stuff like this! Stop on by!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Co-Op sign-Earlville, IL, originally uploaded by William 74.
You used to see the distinctive, two circle Co-Op logo all over the Midwest when I was a kid. On signs, silos, warehouses, hats, gas stations, stores...

Anyway, this one is in front of a cooperative in rural Earlville, Illinois. It looks like it used to light up, and maybe was from a gas station. It looks properly aged, though.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Steam, originally uploaded by William 74.
Today, train travel and railroading in general is accompanied by the thrum of diesel engines, but it wasn't too long ago that the chuffing of a steam engine was the soundtrack of the rails. Steam locomotives were prevalent in North America from the beginning of railroading until the middle of the 20th century, with the last mainline steam operations ending in the 1960's, although some shortlines continued to use steam well after that, and the Northwestern Steel and Wire Company used steam locomotives until the 80's. Today, the Durango and Silverton, a narrow gauge railroad that grew out of the Rio Grande's Silverton branch, continues to use steam, as it always has since the 1800s!

This one, CB&Q 3007, is a Baldwin and dates from 1930.

Monday, March 7, 2011

To a T

Sunday Picnic, originally uploaded by William 74.
MG's T series cars are almost archetypical old fashioned sports cars, from the tops of their fold-flat windscreens to the bottoms of their wire wheels. The most famous variant is probably the 1947-49 TC, which was a gentle evolution of the pre-war TA and TB models, and was one of the first foreign sports cars to be widely exported to the United States. The TC is often considered to be the car that started America's love of sports cars, as it's mix of open-top motoring, tidy handling, and low-ish price made it a popular choice. The T series continued using this simple formula, through the TD and TF models that finished the series' run in 1955. By then, the model was seriously out of date, though, and couldn't compete against newer, more modern rivals from companies like Triumph and Alfa Romeo.

This happens to be a TD, a '53 if the plates are anything to go by. I like to see older cars on display with appropriate accessories. This one was well turned out, with a tartan travel blanket and a Harris Tweed flat 'at on the passenger's seat, that age appropriate license plate and British tax disc, and an impressive set of picnic baskets on the luggage rack.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Foremost Liquors

Foremost Liquors neon sign, originally uploaded by William 74.
Foremost Liquors was/is a chain of liquor stores that at one time had outlets in 17 states, although now I only see them in the Chicago area. The brainchild of a guy named Irving Robins, Foremost was set up as a sort of co-op for liquor store owners, giving them a unified name and better advertising to help compete against the big guys. It worked, and Foremost is still well known, at least in the Chicago area, for it's dancing liquor bottle mascot.

This sign is on Chicago's far north side, in or around the Uptown/Edgewater area (I forget which side of the boundary this falls on). But there are several more in the city, and at least two out in Aurora as well. All of them seem to have one thing in common-really old signs. I kinda like 'em more for it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel, originally uploaded by William 74.
Once the second largest steel producer in America, Pennsylvania based Bethlehem Steel had roots going back to the 1850's, with the formation of Saucona Iron Company. By 1860 the company had moved to Bethlehem, PA, and incorporated the town's name into it's own. By 1899, the company had assumed the name Bethlehem Steel and became a major supplier of the metal.

Bethlehem Steel eventually rose to great prominence in American industry, developing rolling techniques that allowed wide-flange shapes to be made, and helping to usher in the age of skyscrapers. Bethlehem eventually became a major supplier to the construction industry.

However, Bethlehem didn't just make steel girders-the company made an enormous range of products, large and small. Bethlehem Shipbuilding was-naturally-a shipbuilding concern, and during both World Wars the company was a major supplier of armor plate and other ordinance to the U.S. military. In addition to this, Bethlehem was still a big supplier of building materials, everything from girders to sewer grates. Heck, I still see manhole covers with the company's name on them.

This is the counterweight on an old, hand operated railroad switch at the Fox River Trolley Museum. The switch itself dates from the early sixties, and was made in Chicago. Like many industrial things, it features the manufacturer's name cast right into it, and is perfectly legible even after decades of being outside.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Snowfall on the Fox

Snowfall, originally uploaded by William 74.
I've been staying local lately, due to a bunch of things but mainly the weather. It's been alternately really cold, cloudy and grey, raining, or snowing. Generally just unpleasant weather for outdoorsy activities like driving places and taking pictures of them.

This is the Fabyan Lighthouse on a particularly dim, snowy day. I do like this one, though. I think it has a really old-timey feel, like a vintage postcard or a local history book in a particularly dusty corner of the town hall.

ETA:fixed link.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fill 'er up

Sky Chief-TTV, originally uploaded by William 74.
We're back at the beautifully restored Texaco station in Dwight, Illinois, for this week's Through The Viewfinder Tuesday! I've talked about this station before, so I won't say anything except that if you're in the area this summer you totally should go and take a bunch of photos, say hello to the volunteers who run the place, buy a soda pop, and sign the guestbook.

I've also warbled on at length about TtV photography so I'll skip that too, except to say "is it live, or is it Full-Vue?"

Now, for some serious business. Do you like what you see here? Think the pictures are pretty, and you wish you could look at stuff like this all the time, and not just when you turn on your computer and point the interweb browser to this site? Well, now you can! We here at View. Found. are proud to announce that our chief photographer (oaky, it's me) has his own website! See more here!