For the photographers who worked for the federal government’s Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and ’40s, life was never easy. Charged with traveling around the country and documenting poverty and the New Deal policies being implemented to ameliorate it, they spent months every year on the road, staying in cheap hotels, eating bad food, […]
From a distance Schreiber Playground Park, on the far north side, a block north of the intersection of Devon and Ashland, looks much like any other play lot. Next to a tiny field house, low black-and-gray retaining walls surround a large sandbox, two playground areas, and a couple of flower beds. On a warm late-summer […]
George Woodruff spent 1871 like a true old-time river rat. He traveled up and down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers that year, hunting deer, gathering nuts, trapping muskrats for their fur, and cutting wood for steamboats. He camped on the riverbank whenever it was convenient, had no boss, punched no time clock. He probably never […]
Charles Carpenter’s Native American subjects stare at us across gulfs of time and culture. In rich sepia tones imbued with the cachet of age, they inhabit a world not our own. Carpenter, who was the chief photographer for the Field Museum from 1899 to 1947, traveled in 1904 to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint […]
John Wells doesn’t need to leave the city to get away from the noise and crowds. He just climbs the nearest railroad embankment, and is in a different world. The souvenirs he brings back are black-and-white photographs. “It’s a nice way to get away from the city,” he says. “It’s harder near downtown now, though, […]
One of the first photographs in Robert Del Tredici’s book At Work in the Fields of the Bomb shows a mustached young man standing on the steps of a federal building in Washington, D.C., holding a model of a hydrogen bomb. The man is Howard Morland, who achieved notoriety in 1979 when the federal government […]
Bill Pinkney is going to sail around the world–the hard way.
In 1912 there were healthy populations in nearly every county in Illinois. In the spring of ’89 fewer than 100 birds remained.
Ronald Reagan and his officials misspoke themselves so regularly that they seemed to have a certain awkward ballsiness about them, as if they knew they could say anything and get away with it. “We begin bombing in five minutes,” of course, is a favorite. And T.K. Jones, Reagan’s deputy undersecretary of defense for strategic and […]
One thing you can say about Florence Brown’s older sister is that she is mighty secretive. Another is that she is a very fortunate woman. She has been since at least July 24, 1915. That was the day she fell off the Eastland into the Chicago River and was saved by unknown rescuers. Eight hundred […]
Visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 may have thought Chicago lived up to its official motto, “Urbs in Horto”–city in a garden. The exposition was held in Jackson Park, and strung around the city like jewels on a necklace were the other grand parks: Washington, Garfield, Lincoln. They were ideal places for a […]
For a while there, Jerry Roman almost thought she’d have to walk home from Schaumburg every day. Her employer’s van service, which provided transportation from her job in the suburbs to her home on the near west side, was being discontinued because of liability-insurance problems. She and the six other van riders would have to […]
In 1943 Daniel Senise was a $53-a-week conductor on the Illinois Harbor Belt Railroad. In February of that year he was approached in the Blue Island switching yard by a young man. I work for the government, said the man, and I want to take your picture. “I told him exactly what I was doing,” […]
A bottle-deposit bill now before the City Council would clean up the parks, reduce solid waste, and dramatically increase the recycling of glass containers. Of course it’s in for a fight.
Friedrich Pettrich had an unpleasant stay in Washington, D.C., back in the 1840s. The German-born artist had traveled there from his adopted home of Philadelphia because President Tyler had given him a plum job: a commission to design four sculptures to adorn the base of the Washington Monument. While Congress was deciding whether to appropriate […]