Over the past fifteen years, I've taken over 175,000 images, mostly of my thumbs.

Some are of San Francisco, even fewer of Washington and other cities, but almost all were taken in Chicago. Slowly, I've been going through those hundreds of thousands of photographs and picking out the least execrable for this gallery, which reproduces them in full page-size format.

I'll be adding new images several times each week, and just to get started, daily this week, with a bonus image on this original post.

I hope you'll find them enjoyable, and I welcome your comments.

    August 23, 2017  

Chinese National Day observance, Daley Plaza, September 29 2009

[September 29, 2009] China National Day observance, Daley Plaza

    August 21, 2017  

Before Sunrise, opening day, Illinois Holcaust Museum Stanley Tigerman Architect

[April 17, 2009] Before Sunrise, opening of Illinois Holocaust Museum, Stanley Tigerman architect

    August 18, 2017  

Triangles with Blue Angels, Air and Water Show, 2010

[August 13, 2010] Triangles with Blue Angels, Air and Water Show

    August 16, 2017  

Community Meeting, 42 Ward

[March 28, 2017] Community Meeting, 42nd Ward

  Community Meetings are one of the great rituals of the architectural process, where local residents are invited by their alderman to voice their concerns and opinions about prospective projects. Here, architect Walter Eckenhoff looks on as 42nd ward alderman Brendan Reilly holds forth regarding a proposed expansion of a downtown hotel.

After hearing his constituents' complain about increased traffic in an already congested area just off North Michigan, as well as pounding music, open drug use, and watching guests of the current hotel having sex on their balconies, Reilly invoked aldermanic privilege and vetoed the proposal.

    August 14, 2017  

1610 West Jackson

[August 28, 2010] 1610 West Jackson with red car and adjoining porsches porches

    August 11, 2017  

Bud Billiken parade, August 13, 2011

[August 13, 2011] Bud Billiken Parade
This year's parade kicks off at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Oakwood Boulevard, 10:00 a.m., Saturday, August 12th.

    August 10, 2017  

Poetry Foundation, John Ronan, 2011

[June 25, 2011] Landing, Poetry Foundation (John Ronan, 2011)

    August 8, 2017

I. [March 22, 2013] Picasso sculpture, Daley Plaza, Chicago

Eight Ways of Looking at Pablo Picasso's sculptural gift to Chicago, on the 50th anniversary of its unveiling

  It was 50 years ago today, August 8, 1967, that Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago pulled on a cord and the tarp covering the Pablo Picasso sculpture fell away.

II. Civic Center - now Daley Plaza, August 8, 1967 (photo source: DCASE)

The Chicago Tribune's Ron Grossman has an excellent story - with a great video featuring Chicago Cultural Historian Tim Samuelson - of the history of the sculpture's genesis and the largely stunned reaction with which it was originally received.

At the time, it was fashionable to ridicule the Picasso, from politicians like 47th ward John Hoellen calling for it be torn down and replaced with a statue of Cubs slugger Ernie Banks, to the disdain from tough-guy hoi polloi like Studs Terkel and legendary columnist Mike Royko, who saw it as a cynical con job that somehow encapsulated all the corruptions of a very corrupt city.

And perhaps they were correct. But time has its way, and over the decades the largest sculpture ever made by the greatest artist of the 20th century - while continuing to puzzle as to its content and meaning - has grown in the city's affection, to the point where today it is as beloved and iconic a presence and as potent an international symbol as the Water Tower, Marina City, or Wrigley Field.

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017, from noon to 1:00 p.m., the city will be holding a party at Daley Plaza to celebrate "Everyone's Picasso"'s 50th birthday, including a restaging of the 1967 event "conceived by artist and historian Paul Durica." Participants are scheduled to include Orbert Davis, Tatsu Aoki, Avery R. Young and Edra Soto, the Chicago Children's Choice and After School Matters orchestra. For more information - including on other events taking place in conjunction with the 50th anniversary - check out the Facebook page.


III. [April 16, 2016] Teachers rally in front of the Picasso

IV. [September 21, 2012] Picasso and guy

V. [October 7, 2010] Picasso sculpture with Trevi Fountain

VI. [May 13, 2009] Picasso sculpture maquette, Art Institute of Chicago

VII. [October 15, 2016] Picasso sculpture and Daley Plaza

VIII. [June 28, 2016] Picasso sculpture at night

    August 7, 2017  

Hammersmith Building, San Francisco, Lansburgh and Joseph, 1907

[September 13, 2016] Fresh (Hammersmith Building, San Francisco, Lansburgh and Joseph, 1907)

    August 4, 2017  

Dapper man in white suit contemplates vanilla ice cream scoops pavilion (Burnham Pavilion, Millennium Park, UN Studio)

[June 18, 2009] Dapper man in white suit contemplates vanilla ice cream scoops pavilion (Burnham Pavilion, Millennium Park, UN Studio)

    August 2, 2017  

Mixed Reactions, a photograph by Lynn Becker

[June 5, 2010] Mixed Reactions

  Marriage is a sacrament, and the actual ceremony most often takes place under the eye of God in a place or worship

With the advent of photography, however, weddings also became public spectacles in search of dramatic backdrops. Michigan Avenue at the Wrigley Building, Jane Byrne Park at the Water Tower, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo are places where you're often likely to see trolley buses disgorging bridal parties and their photographers trying to create the images that will sustain a lifetime of emotional memories.

[August 6, 2011] Bridal Parade, Lincoln Park Zoo Nature Boardwalk

[August 6, 2011] Bridal Parade, Lincoln Park Zoo Nature Boardwalk

The attire and grooming are the stuff of sacred ritual; while the subjects remain totally human, caught between moments of anxiety, boredom, restlessness and joy.

[September 10, 2009] Happy Bride, Jane Byrne Park at the Chicago Water Tower

[September 10, 2009] Happy Bride, Jane Byrne Park at the Chicago Water Tower

And it's all done in the midst of the rest of us going about our regular and profane workaday lives. At times we pause a moment to stop and watch. Or take pictures.

[August 6, 2011] Bride and Groom and Flowers, Lincoln Park Zoo Nature Boardwalk

[August 6, 2011] Bride and Groom and Flowers, Lincoln Park Zoo Nature Boardwalk

    August 1, 2017  

[September 9, 2010] Chicago Theater (October 26, 1921) Rapp & Rapp

[September 9, 2010] Chicago Theater (October 26, 1921) Rapp and Rapp

    July 31, 2017  

[August 13, 2011] Helmut Jahn's Mansueto Library (2011) cast stars on Walter Netsch's Regenstein Library (1970)

    July 27, 2017  

Back to Back, lakefront promenade

[April 10, 2011] Back to Back, lakefront promenade

    July 26, 2017  

Chain Mail Facade with Purple hard hat. Photograph by Lynn Becker

[August 24, 2010] Chain Mail Facade, Fletcher Jones Audio/Volkswagen. Gensler.
Further reading (with more photos): Heavy Metal: chainmail on Clark, curves along the Mohawk.

  Chain mail architecture: a dead letter? It looked like armor, but it barely lasted six years

In 2010, the anonymous concrete building on Clark and Maple was giving a striking modernist facade designed by Gensler, with Thorton Tomasetti as structural engineers. The Dri-Design perforated corrugated metal panel system of anodized aluminum definitely set the building apart from the largely anonymous architecture nearby.

And so I was surprised when I walked past a building Monday afternoon and realized that the bland, blank-walled facade was the same building. All traces of the corrugated alumnium had been scraped away, leaving behind something that looked pretty much like the generic clapboard-like white panels covering the dealership's neighboring building to the north.

I'd love to know the story behind this. Did the innovative metal facade become damaged? Did it bend or break, to the point of needed to be removed in less than seven years? Or did the owners just become bored, or decided to go for a more neutral design that didn't distract from the merchandise? In any event, you can read our story from 2010 - and see more pictures here.

Fletcher Jones dealership building before and after

    July 25, 2017  

353 North Clark at Sunset.  Photograph by Lynn Becker

[July 12, 2009] 353 North Clark at Sunset. Lohan Anderson 2009
Further reading (with more photos): Erector Set on Clark Street.

    July 21, 2017  

[July 2, 2010] People's Gas Pavilion, Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk, Studio Gang Architects, 2010.
Further reading (with copious photos): Reimagining Urban Eden: Studio/Gang and the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.

    July 20, 2017  

[July 15, 2017] IBM Self-Park, George Schipporeit, 1974.

  It happened again. It happens all the time.

"I've seen many ugly parking structures in my travels, but this one in Chicago takes the prize!" tweeted someone calling themselves Streetfilms

It's a common first impression when encountering George Schipporeit's IBM Self Park, on Wabash just north of Mie's last skyscraper. Understandable, but also lazy and trolling. It's a snap judgement that carries its own punishment, cheating the commentator of the experience of one of Chicago's most distinctive buildings.

On a gloomy day, the Self Park easily appears the massive, overbearing, monolilthic presence that architect and critic Sam Jacob dismissed as a "Super massive black urban hole." But in the play of sunlight, the cor-ten fins that make up the garage facade can make it shimmer and come alive. And at night, the garage structure simply dissolves. Like Lewis Carroll's Chesire cat, it leaves behind only its smile, a grid of luminous reactangles enlivened by the play of passing headlights, a perfect backdrop complementing Mie's proud tower.

I've walked past ths Self-Park almost every day for decades, and this past Saturday it showed me it still had the power to surprise, as in the above image, taken at golden hour, where the facade seemed to evoke a delicate Japanese screen

But see for yourself. Read my story on the Self-Park and see photographic proof of its ingratiating changeability here.

    July 19, 2017

[April 4, 2009] Auditorium Self-Park, c. 1952.

    July 18, 2017  

Father Time block at Jewelers Building in Chicago

[April 10, 2010] Drummond Place stalked by purple dinosaur.

©2003-2015 Lynn Becker. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission strictly prohibited.