Boy's gotta have it.


Kodak Baby Brownie, circa 1934-41. Actually, I saw one of these yesterday at the Kane County Flea Market, but couldn't pull the trigger on the $25 asking price - maybe next time. I already own a later Brownie, from the 1950s, but I like the diminutive size and minimalist design of the Baby even more.

September 5, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (2)

Fading Ad: Ginza Restaurant


Somewhat recent, but definitely fading, ad for Ginza Restaurant, at State and Ohio in River North, Chicago. Ginza operated here from 1987 to 2013. It appears that Ginza was gentrified out of the neighborhood, which is ironic given that its food was well-regarded, and the area is now booming with restaurants and hotels. If the food was good, you'd think the gentrification and influx of people would have benefitted the place, and not lead to its demise. Apparently the new landlord had other, more expensive plans.

This was a difficult photo to take - I only had my iPhone, the ad was up high (about eight or ten stories) and I was shooting toward the west and the setting sun, which inevitably caused it to be overexposed. I edited as well as I could, but ended up with sharpness that was much less than ideal. Then, again, this almost has a watercolor feel to it, which I like.

August 7, 2016 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Foamcraft


I can't believe I didn't discover this fading ad earlier. I've been walking around the West Loop every day for almost a year and a half, but only just now did I finally spot this sign. Yes, it's tucked into an alley (947 W. Van Buren) but it's huge - almost half a block long, and impossible to fully capture in a single photo. Foamcraft is a manufacturer of foam packaging fabrication equipment which seems to have been originally located here, although they're now in Brighton Park on the Southwest Side. The Van Buren building is now a self-storage facility. Because when a manufacturer leaves the West Loop, it seems as if its old building can only become one of two things: condominiums or self-storage.

July 7, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Uneeda Biscuit


Fading ads for Uneeda Biscuit are far from uncommon (or within the small realm of fading ads, anyway; here's one I photographed in 2012), but the location of this ad is somewhat unique. I found it in the Penn Quarter area of downtown Washington, D.C. (specifically, at 7th and Indiana), which was probably once filled with ads but has now been all gussied up to such an extent that they have all but disappeared. Even this ad was a hard find; I happened to spot it from a block away, and the closest I could get to it was across the street, and could only photograph it from a narrow vantage point and at an awkward angle. I apologize for the lack of sharpness; with the sweltering D.C. heat, I was eager to get back into the shade, and didn't take as much time for composition as I could have.

June 25, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Farm Land

We just got home from a week's vacation in Washington, D.C. As much as I like the photographs I took there of all of the familiar sights (Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian Institution, etc.), just as much I like these that I took of the passing countryside, through the car window.


New Baltimore, Pennsylvania



Schellsburg, Pennsylvania



Breezewood, Pennsylvania



Juniata Township, Pennsylvania



Edon, Ohio


Long vistas and high skies - characteristics that I associate more commonly with my native Midwest, but are also prevalent in the East. Though for obvious reasons (the Mail Pouch sign and weathered barn) I really like the Juniata Township photo, I think the New Baltimore one is my favorite. The lighting worked out really well there, I think.

June 24, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Side

This week I found myself taking photographs through my train window while passing through the far South Side of Chicago. These were originally posted to my Facebook and Instagram pages but I thought it would be nice to collect them all here.



92nd Place and Vincennes Avenue, Brainerd



91st Street and Vincennes Avenue, Brainerd



78th Street and Fielding Avenue, Auburn Gresham



76th Street and Normal Avenue, Auburn Gresham



76th Street and Normal Avenue, Auburn Gresham



75th Street and Eggleston Avenue, Auburn Gresham



72nd Street and Stewart Avenue, Englewood



Marquette Road and Yale Avenue, Englewood


These neighborhoods have special meaning for me, since my mom grew up in Auburn Park (now part of Auburn Gresham) and my grandmother in Englewood. Though the neighborhoods have changed significantly since my family lived there, both economically and racially, it touches me to see (albeit from the distance of a train viaduct) the streets and many of the same buildings that they moved amongst every day, up until the mid 1940s.

My method was fairly basic. Since there was no way to carefully compose photographs from a moving train, I simply had to take a flurry of shots in promising areas, and then sift through them afterward for the best images, which I cropped significantly to cut out the extraneous, and adjusted for brightness and contrast. Some were taken facing east toward the sun, which resulted in darker images after editing, while others were taken facing west (especially the Brainerd photos, which were the only ones taken under a completely clear sky) and were marked by more natural, vivid light. Any blurring was the inevitable result of the train moving at twenty or thirty miles per hour - instead of marring the photos, I think the blurring helps create a sense of motion.

June 11, 2016 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Evergreen Plaza

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I took a later train this morning, a local which runs through the Beverly sub-district on the South Side. When I've taken this train in the past, I've always sat on the right side, looking east. But today I sat on the left (west) side for the first time, and was pleased to discover this sign for Evergreen Plaza, which was located at 95th and Western in Evergreen Park and is generally considered to be "the first modern American mall" when it opened in 1952; the Plaza was enclosed in 1966, becoming an indoor mall which was also among the first of its kind. This appears to be a later ad for the Plaza, after it had fallen on hard times and most of its big department stores (other than Carson Pirie Scott) had closed. Left to right, it advertises Goldirox Fine Jewelry, Fiddle Stix (children's clothing), Carson's, Chain Reaction (jewelry), and Gantos (women's clothing).

Evergreen Plaza closed in 2013 and was demolished in late 2015. A new shopping center is being built in its place. Presumably without a Gantos.

March 4, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Hild Floor Machine Company


Here is the most humble type of fading ad: the alley parking sign. This one (at 1217 W. Washington) isn't much aesthetically, though the history of the company, the Hild Floor Machine Company, is somewhat interesting. Hild - a manufacturer of commercial floor scrubbers and buffers - started business in 1927 at 1313 W. Randolph, just one block away from this sign. Then, according to this 1948 article in the Tribune, the company was to build a new headquarters and manufacturing facility a few blocks east, on the northeast corner of Halsted and Washington.

Although the article references only a 150 sq. ft. parcel, the accompanying photo suggests a sprawling structure that seems to take up the entire southern half of the block that was bounded by Halsted, Washington, Randolph and Union. The larger structure depicted in the article was apparently never built - there are pre-1948 buildings still standing on what would have been the eastern portion of the facility. My guess is that the two-story structure shown right at the corner was indeed built (there is a 1990s-vintage bank branch there now) but not the rest. Regardless, the larger structure wouldn't have survived for long anyway - the eastern half of the block, including Union Avenue, was demolished for construction of the Kennedy Expressway in the early 1960s.

The company was acquired by California-based Mytee Products in 2000, and Hild equipment is no longer manufactured in Chicago. The sign appears to be from the sixties or seventies - I assume that the company operated at 1217 W. Washington after downsizing from the Halsted & Washington facility, though I can't find any confirmation of this.

January 10, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Amazon Hose & Rubber Company


Construction of the new building at the left appears to have prompted the partial removal of the canvas banner on the building at the center, at 140 N. Jefferson Street. When I saw the vaguely retro typeface and the orange background, my first thought was that this might have been an early logo for But an image search for old Amazon logos brought up nothing that looked anything like this, and so I kept looking, and a search on the address finally revealed that this was once the home of Amazon Hose & Rubber Company, a wholesaler of industrial hoses. The company was established in Chicago in 1945 but, oddly enough, now operates only from three locations in Florida - Miami, Tampa and Orlando. A corporate snowbird, I guess.

November 22, 2015 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)


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It's been gray and drizzly here lately - in other words, a typical Chicago November. This photograph captures the mood fairly well. My eye was first drawn to the "Open" sign, barely cutting through the gloom, but as I framed the image I liked how the illuminated droplets of rain on the train window distorted the sign. I shifted my position until the sign was directly behind one of the droplets. The effect seems somewhat surreal - the pink spots almost look painted on.

This is the EggCetera Cafe, in downtown Mokena.

November 18, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)


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"Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts." - Walker Evans

Happy belated birthday (Tuesday) to Evans, one of my heroes.

November 5, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Quality Food Products


A soon-to-be fading ad: Quality Food Products, a food wholesaler ("We sell produce, canned goods, dairy, frozen. No fresh meats.") at 172 N. Peoria St.; this ad is actually right around the corner, on another building in the company's complex, at 918 W. Randolph St. I really like the little chef face inside the Q. The company is still in business, but may soon be moving - the Tribune ran an interesting piece (source of that quotation above) on one of the co-owners earlier this year, in which he voices his regret of how much the neighborhood has changed, even though that change would make him very wealthy when the property is finally sold.

October 20, 2015 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)



A random alley doorway in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. During my afternoon walks I often like to stroll down the alleys, behind the storefronts and old factories. While the street side of buildings may have been cleaned up and polished, the alley doors are often an afterthought, left untouched and weather-worn. I'm slowly collecting photographs like this, and might someday run a series here.

October 11, 2015 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)


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September 30, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Midwest Barrel Company



This ad for Midwest Barrel Company (412 N. Peoria St., Chicago) is actually two ads for the same company. In the second photo, you can see the older ad across the top of the green rectangle ("Midwest", then a picture of a barrel, then "Barrel"). Then, superimposed on the older ad, there is a newer ad, with another barrel picture at the left, and "Midwest Barrel Company" to the right in an oh-so-1970s typeface, with the last two words stacked. The "412" at the bottom of the rectangle appears to belong to the older ad; in the first photo you can see a later "412" which was added to the right of the overhead door. I love the unusual green color of this, and also the delicate brickwork near the roofline - I'm always amazed that builders used to include this sort of detail on what was an ordinary building and for a very mundane, unglamorous business.

Midwest Barrel was in business from 1963 to 2006.

August 16, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: H.C. Evans & Company

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H.C. Evans & Company (at 1528 W. Adams Street, Chicago) was once a major manufacturer of slot machines, jukeboxes, pinball machines and...crooked casino equipment. Below is a nice image of the factory from the company's 1929 catalogue (source), looking much the same as it does today.

image from

August 5, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (2)

Fading Ad: Clinton Supply Company

image from

One of the joys of fading ads is finally being able decipher a less-than-pristine ad. This ad for the Clinton Supply Company (at 1025 W. Jackson Boulevard in Chicago) is a case in point. At first I could make out the Dual-O-Matic product name (and even the trademark registration number, just below it), but wasn't clear on the company name. That unusual script (starting with "CL") didn't help - with more standard lettering, you can often figure out what the partially-visible letters are. But the script makes it more difficult. After deciding that I did have the partial name "CL_N_ON", I finally took a guess on "CLINTON", and a Google search using both that name and Dual-O-Matic brought up a listing for the trademark registration for the logo.

Clinton was founded in 1910 (originally located on Clinton Street and later here on Jackson Blvd.) and is now part of Benjamin Power Group, based in Northbrook. The Dual-O-Matic was apparently some sort of power supply unit for electroplating and anodizing applications.

Interestingly, there is currently another industrial supply company in that building, which I assume is the source of the bold, newer text at the bottom of the ad.

July 31, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Oil Coal Gas Furnaces


Unusual find, on River Street in downtown Batavia, Illinois, where my mom lives. Other than ads I've seen on barns, this is the first one that I can remember seeing that was painted on wood instead of brick. And I don't even know what the name of the company was. And Google didn't clarify much, either. Nice little mystery.

July 26, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fading Ad: New Packing Company



New Packing Company, purveyors of sausages, other meats, cheeses and salads (including the "Country Maid" salad brand). Lake Street and Elizabeth Street, in Chicago's West Loop. This is the first fading ad I've seen that includes website URLs - both of which are now defunct, along with the company. If there's any consolation for the owners, it's that with the rapid redevelopment of the neighborhood, the building is now worth a small fortune.

July 3, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (1)

Photographs from Hilton Head Island

We vacation in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, nearly every year. While there, we just take it easy - sleeping in, walking the beach, swimming in the pool, enjoying good dinners and cocktails. All of that down time means plenty of opportunities for photography. Here are some of my favorites from the past week.

Sunset (small)

Sunsets are so beautiful there, it's almost impossible to not take great images in the evening. It almost feels like cheating.


Channel (small)

When the tide recedes, it often leaves behind a channel of water which sometimes flows back into the ocean, and sometimes remains stranded in a pool that lingers until the next high tide. This is the former; walking the ridged sand often leaves you at the end of a peninsula, at which point you either have to turn back or walk through water that can be two or even three feet deep.


Jellyfish (small)

Most of the jellyfish we found were washed up on the sand, and dead, but this one survived (momentarily?) in a tidal pool, where it was propelling itself around in its gentle manner. So gently, in fact, that it could be easy to forget how painful its sting would be. I wish I could say I'm such a brilliant photographer that I intentionally framed this photo to include the beach umbrella at the upper right, which echoes the shape and position of the jellyfish. But I never even saw the umbrella until I edited the photograph hours later.


Chairs (small)

Just before leaving the resort, while taking one last view from our patio, I admired the graceful curve of these deck chairs. But in the original photo, the curve was lost amid background clutter. So during editing, I turned down the brightness and turned up the contrast, and all that remained is the chairs and tables. Nicely abstract, I think.

Incidentally, the first three photos were taken with my new GoPro camera, which has an ultra-wide-angle lens that creates a fisheye effect. No, the horizon is not curved in Hilton Head.

June 1, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Red Cross Pharmacy, Antimigraine

Anti-migraine (small)

This fading ad (in Savannah, Georgia, at the corner of Broughton and Habersham Streets) appears to actually be two ads, of two different but related businesses that once occupied the building: the lower ad ("Antimigraine Cures Headaches") must have been from the The Antimigraine Company, which was here from 1891 to 1892, while the upper ad ("Red Cross Pharmacy", with a faint yellow background), from 1904-05. The building has undergone an extensive restoration by the Savannah College of Art and Design; until recently, the ad was hidden by a coat of white paint, and was only painstakingly recovered:

When work began the entire building was painted white. There was no evidence of a commercial sign though students thought it might be "neat" if there was a Coke sign under the paint. To remove the white paint a chemical and power washer (hot water) were used. One day as Jim was inspecting the project he saw the letter "A" begin to unveil itself in the paint removal process. He immediately stopped the workmen. He did not want to strip away any of the historical evidence of the commercial sign. To uncover the sign, which must have been painted with lead-based paint, the paint stripper was diluted and the power on the washer was turned down. What eventually was revealed are the words "Anti-migrane Cures Headaches" of the original 1890 business of the Anti-migrane Pharmacy. The round disks shown simulate pills. Also revealed was "Red Cross Pharmacy" which was what the name of the pharmacy was at some point during its history. And, if you look closely to the south end of the sign you might see lady looking toward you in profile.

That lady isn't visible in this photo, and while I did take another that captures that section, the image is badly deteriorated and the lady can now be seen only with a great deal of imagination. How wonderful that the preservationist took such care to save this ad. If that is at all suggestive of the work that has been done on the interior of the building, it must be a lovely restoration indeed.

June 1, 2015 in History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (2)

Graphic Papers of Joliet


One of my favorite buildings in Joliet: paper wholesaler Graphic Papers of Joliet. I particularly like the "GPJ" logo at the top. I don't think this building was originally a warehouse - it's adjacent to the former Joliet Steel Works, so I assume it was once something industrial. That weird peak is actually the end of an long, windowed, loft-like section above the roof that runs the length of the building, which must have allowed light and ventilation into the factory floor. I've seen this feature on a lot of old factories but don't know what it's called.

May 17, 2015 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Universal Overall Company


Chicago's West Loop neighborhood may not have many fading ads, but it does have a lot of old factory buildings, many of which still have their cool original signage. This one is over the entry of the Universal Overall Company, (1060 W. Van Buren) which was founded in 1924 and is still family-owned and operated. That's something I always love to see. If a company has been around that long, and survived the strife which surfaces so often in family businesses, you know they're doing something right.

May 12, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (2)

Joliet Industry: Triptych




May 3, 2015 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joliet Steel Works: Triptych




April 25, 2015 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Graphic Arts Finishing Co.


While walking back to the office after lunch yesterday, I happened to glance down a long, narrow alley and saw this ad. After discreetly allowing a restaurant worker, who stepped out from a side door, to pass (photographing signs in an alley is already weird enough without also having to explain yourself) I slipped down the alley and took the photo. The ad is on the back of a building at 119 N. Peoria, in the West Loop. The company seems to have moved to Melrose Park quite a few years ago, but it's nice to see that in addition to the usual loft condos, the building is also the home of Threewalls, an arts organization and gallery space. Which seems fitting, given the building's former usage.

April 11, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Faded Ad: Culicchia & Co.

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Culicchia & Co., purveyors of pizza ingredients, was in business from 1942 to 1999. Located at 1100 W. Randolph Street, in the old food wholesale district, which is rapidly gentrifying but still home to quite a few wholesalers. I hope this ad is a realistic depiction of Mr. Culicchia, and that his life was as joyous as the image suggests.

April 7, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Phil's Tavern


Here's a real obscurity: Phil's Tavern, on the northwest corner of Madison Street and Carpenter Street, on the Near West Side. I can find absolutely nothing online about this place - even searches of the approximate street address come up empty. My only discovery is a Google Street View image from last May, which shows a shingled awning that formerly obscured the sign; that awning is now removed, and the sign revealed. (But that also suggests the building is being renovated, which means the sign might disappear soon.) Based on the drab exterior and the tiny size of the building, it's probably safe to say that Phil's used to be a non-descript, hole-in-the-wall dive, perhaps dating back to the era when this stretch of Madison was the city's skid row.

March 25, 2015 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hibernian Hall, Joliet


In an effort to revive this blog, I intend to post something historical here every weekend. Above is a photo of the old Hibernian Hall on East Cass Street in Joliet. The building was the lodge for the local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish fraternal society. The building has seen better days - many of the upstairs windows are broken, and the auto repair shop on the ground floor, with the gaudy checkerboard facade, looks like it might be out of business - but it still maintains much of its original dignity. If you look closely, you can read the Hibernians' motto ("Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity") and see the letters "AOH" and several Celtic crosses and shamrocks. An interesting relic on what is rapidly becoming a worn-down part of Joliet.

March 15, 2015 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Heinz strained beets! Swan's soap! Public telephones!


I love this detail from Gordon Parks' 1943 photograph of a Harlem street scene.

February 22, 2015 in History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

The few things I will miss about Rosemont

Since August I've been temporarily working in Rosemont, where my company is based. This has required a long, tiring drive (85-mile roundtrip) on clogged expressways, and cramped office space. But tomorrow, I return to downtown Chicago, to a newly built office and a resumption of my daily train ride. Rosemont isn't much to speak of and I'm glad to be leaving, but there are a few things I will miss about the area.


Late lunches at Mac's Restaurant in Park Ridge, where they serve a great club sandwich and always greeted me with a smile. I always found quiet satisfaction at being their last customer of the day, before they closed up at 2:30.


Unobstructed sunsets over O'Hare.


A parking garage that was unexpectedly photogenic if I looked carefully enough.

Okay, the fact that one of the three things that I'll miss about Rosemont is a parking garage should tell you how little I'll miss the place.

February 16, 2015 in Personal, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Curbside Castoffs

Photo (1)

Sixth in a series of memorable curbside discards from around Joliet. Queen-sized headboard, circa 1980s, on Campbell Street. I'm guessing the garbage man will get this before any scavenger will.

July 20, 2014 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)



I'm calling this "Sunset, St. Paul Estates, Joliet." Not quite "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico", but in Joliet we take whatever we can get.

July 14, 2014 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

McKinley Park


I love this 1906 image of the McKinley Park swimming pool in Chicago, and particularly the fact that something as mundane as a public pool could have had such grandeur (and white-uniformed attendants). The park still has a pool, but the neo-classical structures are long gone.

(Actually, the building on the left still stands, though in sadly degraded form. The other structures and pool are gone.)

July 11, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clark and Madison


Lively image of the bustling (northeast) corner of Clark and Madison, in 1948. Ah, to be able to take in a show at the Clark Theater, followed by some liquid refreshment at the Bamboo Inn or Kozer's Tap, and then an afternoon nap in an air-conditioned room at the Planters. None of which, sadly, is possible at that same corner today.

June 27, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Haskell, Barker, Sullivan


Detail of Louis Sullivan's gorgeous cast-iron facades on the Haskell and Barker Buildings, at 18-22 S. Wabash. The facades were rediscovered during a 2009 renovation, under twenty coats of paint. Alas, the exposure meter on my iPhone wasn't quite up to task; capturing the black detail resulted in the white detail being partly washed out.

June 19, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wabash & Delaware


I love this 1963 image by Vivian Maier. It almost looks like there's another world below the sidewalk, barely visible through a jagged fissure.

June 18, 2014 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Dexter Folder Company


Fading ad for Dexter Folder Company, on Harrison Street in the South Loop. At first I assumed that Dexter once made folders of the manila file variety, but I subsequently learned that its folders were actually automatic folding machines that were used to assemble newspapers, books and magazines. Which makes perfect sense: this building is immediately adjacent to Printer's Row, the city's old publishing district.

June 10, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vienna Sausage


A true Chicago icon: the Vienna Sausage Company (now "Vienna Beef") at its grand opening in 1894. The building was at Halsted Street and 12th Street (now Roosevelt Road) near the legendary Maxwell Street open market, but no longer exists after the entire neighborhood was redeveloped as University Village during the early 2000s. Although the sign claims the company's products as "celebrated" and thus indicates the company was already in existence at this time, this may have been its first permanent location. The company first rose to fame during the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

June 6, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Schmitz & Gretencort


I strongly prefer to find fading ads on my own, finding much more pleasure in unexpected discovery than taking the shortcut of an Internet search. But yesterday, for some reason, I happened to google "ghost sign" (the more common term for fading ads) and "Joliet" and came across a Flickr photo of an ad in Rockdale, a tiny factory town that is almost completely surrounded by Joliet. I was surprised, as I had hunted in Rockdale in the past but hadn't found anything; apparently I must have always driven west down Moen Avenue, and thus missed seeing this west-facing ad.

Last night, after picking Maddie up from her guitar lesson, we swung down to Rockdale and found the ad, and that's my photograph above. Though the ad is in poor condition and hard to read, my knowledge of local history helped me immediately recognize the name "Schmitz & Gretencort", an old department store in downtown Joliet. (Here's an earlier blog post I did about the store.) There's additional wording above the name, the only clear part of which reads "The Boys." Oddly enough, the white van in the photo also appears in the exact same location in the Flickr photo. Possibly belongs to the owner, though, sadly, more likely a regular.

May 16, 2014 in History, Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

E.J. Brach



The photo at the top is an early home of E.J. Brach & Sons, on the northeast corner of LaSalle and Illinois, circa 1909. After seeing this online and, on a whim, doing a Google Street View of the address, I was delighted to see that the building is still standing. I took the lower photo today during my afternoon walk. Most of Chicago's once-thriving candy industry is now gone, so sadly this building now only houses nothing more unique than yet another Jimmy John's outpost, plus whatever happens to be upstairs.

May 15, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (1)

From above


I love Marco Cadioli's tumblr Abstract Journeys, with its stark satellite landscape images. The image above is my own take on the idea, and shows the square block that includes my house. Not quite as abstract as Cadioli's farmstead images (and not as sharp; his are from Google Earth, mine are from Google Maps, which seems to have lower resolution) but, I think, still interesting.

April 23, 2014 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

19 S. Peoria Street, then and now


19 south peoria

Sure, that parking lot is convenient and the employee picnic table looks inviting, but, still, I'm sure things were a lot more lively at Waller's Public Bath.

April 23, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duncan Ceramic Products, Authorized Dealer



Yesterday, I took a detour down a stretch of Center Street, on the north side of Joliet, that I had never driven before. Standing out amid the usual hundred-plus-year-old houses, I was very pleased to discover this old storefront building. I would guess it was originally a corner tavern or grocery (the name near the roof reads "Sievert"), though it's now empty and for sale. The decal on the front door for Duncan Ceramic Products indicates its most recent incarnation was some sort of art supply store, though I can't find any confirmation of that online through an address search. Such a store seems somewhat incongruous with the surrounding working-class neighborhood, which might mean it's been empty for a very long time.

April 14, 2014 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Joliet Litho-Print



I've known about this ad for a while now, but only just got around to photographing it yesterday. This is Joliet Litho-Print, on Chicago Street in downtown Joliet. In the inset photo, you can make out "Service Printers", "Pamphlets" and "Catalogs", and if you look even closer, there's a lime-colored swoosh stripe (inverted, anti-Nike) just above "Litho-Print." Based on the company's limited web presence - I couldn't even find a website - it's unclear whether or not it's still in business, so I'm glad to have finally photographed this while I still could. I've been into fading ads for about fifteen years now, and have lost far too many ads by assuming they would always be around to photograph some other day.

April 8, 2014 in Joliet, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: People's Gas Company



Here's another fading ad, one that's hiding and seems somewhat shy. I saw this from atop the same parking garage where I photographed the A.C. McClurg ad; it's the old Peoples Gas Company building at 122 S. Michigan. The ad is on the back on the building, facing west, and is mostly obscured by the taller, modern tower at the left side of the photo. Due to its height and the closeness of that modern tower, I doubt that this ad is fully visible from anywhere other than inside the tower.

March 24, 2014 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: A.C. McClurg & Co.


I was quite pleased to suddenly discover this fading ad during my afternoon walk last Friday. I was strolling west on Adams, approaching Wabash, and happened to glance up, above the El tracks, where I saw the ad high up on a building at 218 S. Wabash. Because of where the ad is situated (facing a narrow gap over a small four-story building, next to which was a tall parking garage) the exact spot where I happened to be at that moment is essentially the only point where the ad can be seen from the street. I rode the elevator to the top level of the garage, walked past the cars and to the edge, where I was able to take this shot.

The ad is for A.C. McClurg & Company (you can see all but the "A.C." and the "Mc"), once one of the most prominent publishers in Chicago; McClurg most notably published Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books as well as The Dial, one of the most prominent literary journals of its day. McClurg also operated a major book store which eventually morphed into the legendary Kroch's & Brentano's. In an interesting twist, this photo actually includes a second ad: in the upper left corner you can see an ad for Lyon & Healy, which I have previously documented.

Parking garages are a great place to photograph from, or just to take in unique views. Most of what we see downtown is either from street level or from high up in tall buildings. But garages provide an interesting middle ground: five to ten stories high, with the uncovered top level providing an open, panoramic view. Especially on the streets along the El tracks (Wabash, Van Buren, Wells, Lake) where redevelopment has come slower than the more marquee streets of the Loop, garages provide a rare glimpse of scruffier and (to me) more charming older buildings. And since they're open to the public, garages are easily accessible without having to navigate through security.

March 24, 2014 in Chicago Observations, History, Photography | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fading Ad: Brunswick


This building at 623 S. Wabash Avenue in Chicago was the headquarters of Brunswick Corporation (previously the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company) from 1913 to 1964. That distinctive logo should be familiar to anyone who's ever shot pool on a Brunswick table or bowled in a Brunswick alley. Brunswick is still in business, though it moved to the suburbs years ago. Interestingly enough, before Brunswick this building housed a showroom of the Studebaker automobile company, and the opposite (north) side of the building also has a Studebaker ad which must be over a hundred years old. Unfortunately I had to shoot that ad facing south, toward the bright sun, and the lettering of the ad was totally washed out. (You can just make out the ad in this shot from Google Street View.) It's rare for one building here in Chicago to have two fading ads, let alone ads for two iconic companies.

March 17, 2014 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fading Ad: Hollywood Tuxedo Rental


I just love this fantastic faded ad from the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, photographed by Marian Saska. But the photo was taken in 1972 and, unforunately, the ad is now long gone. Still, nice to see it preserved for posterity. As for the ad content itself, I know they were trying to emphasize the tuxedo, but it's kind of unsettling to see the woman rendered so faintly, only in outline.

March 14, 2014 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cartier-Bresson in Chicago


Excellent: I didn't know that the great Henri Cartier-Bresson was ever in Chicago, let alone that he photographed memorable images here, like this one. I'm heartened to see he was as enamored with the abstract geometry of the El tracks as countless other, lesser photographers (myself included) have been since the system's inception. And I admire the juxtaposition between the hard rigidity of the tracks and the soft and slightly pained humanity of the boy's face.

March 2, 2014 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)