In 1974, I made a picture of the Illinois Central railroad station at Roosevelt Road. Although I didn't know it at the time, this was to be the first photograph in an ongoing series that has been my obsession ever since. The photo of this train station in mid-demolition seems to capture a crucial moment at the end of the industrial age in America. It shows the decline of the railroads in the second half of the 20th century with the newly constructed Standard Oil and Hancock buildings appearing in the background.
Since the moment I recorded that image, I have felt compelled to capture the last dying breaths of American industrial society. As we are being propelled into the 21st Century, we are demolishing or converting the remains of the industrial symbols. We have shifted from manufacturing to communicating and the buildings and symbols have continued to depict this change.
Although some images seem to trap these moments of chan$e, to me a single image has always seemed inadequate. Each time I look, the city is different, constantly changing. It changes through natural movement of light and time and through human endeavor. I have always been fascinated with the transition itself and my sequential photographs represent my attempt to see and understand it.
After more than 22 years of photographing, I now view my work in the context of social documentary. It has always been a visual record of changes that occur around me in the urban landscape. Most of these images come from the transmutable canvas of architectural perspective. As architecture cannot exist without people, nor people without architecture, it is this symbiotic union that attracts me.
Release Date: August 4,2023
This photo is part of a decades long series documenting the changes in Chicago’s urban landscape. My hope is to preserve the memory of what was changing or disappearing.
The 666 Lounge sat proudly on State Street in Chicago’s South Loop area, a vestige of the old days when the neighborhood was a center of the printing industry. It eventually fell to the wrecking ball along with the Pacific Garden Mission its next door neighbor to the North to make way for a new public high school in the more upscale neighborhood.
666 Lounge, 1982