A rarely screened gem of the silent cinema, this fascinating 1931 documentary resulted from a road trip the German photographer and writer Heinrich Hauser made through the American midwest when Chicago’s booming population, fed by the Great Migration of Blacks from the south and waves of immigrants from Europe and elsewhere, had reached nearly 3.4 million. In his concentration on architecture and machinery, the director may owe something to Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927), but Hauser’s style is more forthright: an intertitle in a scene of automation reads, “But where are the people?” His shots of bumper-to-bumper traffic along Lake Shore Drive add to the sense of technology winning out over humanity, as do the sequences featuring unemployable, forgotten old men barely getting by during the Depression. But the energy is palpable, from a speedboat on the Chicago River to street life in the Loop and citizen philosophers in Bughouse Square debating the hot topic of Soviet Russia. What appears old somehow feels timeless.