Over the past fifteen years, I've taken over 184,000 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.
 


    October 23, 2017  


[October 21, 2017] Mannerist Towers

    October 20, 2017  


[October 19, 2017] Stub Hub: Among the towers of North Michigan Avenue, a stunning new Apple Store Town Center opens at Pioneer Court.
See all the historical, construction and night unveiling pics in our photoessay here.

    October 18, 2017  


[May 8, 2010] . . . and now for something completely different: Black Cat with Vase

    October 16, 2017  


Open House Chicago 2017: Top-down Unitower (Marina City)

[October 15, 2017] Open House Chicago: Top-down Unitower

  Thanks to the great staff and all the amazing volunteers that again made this year's edition of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago, a success that had thousands blowing past plaque-like levels of rain and wind to visit 140 beautiful and intriguing sites.


    October 13, 2017  


Opeh House Chicago: St. Benedict the African Roman Catholic Church

[October 16, 2016] Open House Chicago: St. Benedict the African Roman Catholic Church

  This Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16, is the 2017 edition of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago, an amazing event that gives you access to over 140 Chicago landmarks, including interiors not often open to the public.

Click on this hyperlink to see the full list of sites. One you shouldn't miss is also one of the newest, from 1989, Belli and Belli's spectacular and absolutely unique St. Benedict the African Roman Catholic Church. at 6559 South Stewart. And while you're there, be sure to check out the light-filled, full-height atrium of 1892's Yale Apartments, just blocks away at 6565 South Yale.

    October 9, 2017  


Chicago Architeture Biennial: Branding

[September 30, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial: Branding

    October 6, 2017  


Chicago Architecture Bienniel, green grid (Infinitely Intimate, Karamuk * Kuo Architects)

[September 30, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial, green grid (Infinitely Intimate, Karamuk * Kuo Architects)

    October 4, 2017  


Chicago Architecture Biennial: Megamansion Idyll - Keith Krumwiede, Atlas of Another America

[September 25, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial: Megamansion Idyll, Keith Krumwiede, Atlas of Another America

    October 2, 2017  


Chicago Architecture Biennial, tiny furniture - The Grand Interior, MAIO

[September 25, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial, tiny furniture - The Grand Interior, MAIO

    September 27, 2017  


Chicago Architeture Biennial, ice cream tower, Pascal Flammer

[September 16, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial, ice cream tower, Pascal Flammer

    September 25, 2017  


Chicago Architecture Biennial: brick weave x 3 - Robotic Craftsmanship, Archi-Union

[September 16, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial, brick weave x 3 - Robotic Craftsmanship, Archi-Union

    September 20, 2017  


Chicago Architecture Biennial - Morning Cleaning Mies van der Rohe Foundation Barcelona, Norman Kelly

[September 16, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial, cleaning the Barcelona Pavilion, pre referendum - Morning Cleaning Mies van der Rohe Foundation Barcelona, Norman Kelley

    September 18, 2017  


[September 16, 2017] Chicago Architecture Biennial and ceiling

    September 6, 2017  


September 14, 2016: South of the Golden Gate

[September 14, 2016] South of the Golden Gate

    September 4, 2017  


Beach Week: Last Day of Summer

[September 3rd, 2013] Beach Week: Last Day of Summer

    September 3, 2017  


End of Summer Beach Week:  Inlets

[September 5th, 2016] End of Summer Beach Week: Inlets

    September 2, 2017  


Beach Week: Lifeguard with clouds

[September 5th, 2016] Beach Week: Lifeguard with Clouds

    September 1, 2017  


Beach Week:  Pink Beach Palace

[September 3rd, 2012] Beach Week: Pink Beach Palace

    August 31, 2017  


Crissy Field, San Francisco, September 14, 2016

[September 9, 2016] End-of-Summer Beach Week: Crissy Field, San Francisco

    August 30, 2017  


Runners on the beach

[October 9, 2010] Runners on the beach

    August 29, 2017  


April 10, 2011, Beach Trio, North Avenue

[April 10, 2011] Beach Trio, North Avenue

    August 28, 2017  


Beach with Skyline and Clouds

[July 2, 2017] Beach with skyline and clouds

    August 25, 2017  


Look out Behind You! (Woman with Giant Rat

[July 30, 2010] Look out Behind You! (Woman with Giant Rat)

    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.




©2003-2017 Lynn Becker. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission strictly prohibited.