The house at 8261 South Buffalo is not atypical of buildings in the Bush section of South Chicago. Immediately adjacent to the old US Steel South Works, frame houses like this provided affordable housing for laborers. This one was built in 1898, according to tax records. Like much of the neighborhood, it is boarded up and has fallen on hard times since the closing of the mill.
I can find little about the house’s history. It enters the newspaper archives only twice, both in connection to one Joseph Szymanski. In 1947, he and 7 other inmates fled the Illinois State Training School for Boys, where they were serving time for parole violations. The 17-year-old and his accomplices were all quickly recaptured. His parents evidently packed him off to the Army in 1948, and he spent the next several years in Japan, through at least 1950, when his name surfaces again in a regular newspaper column about local members of the armed forces.
These modest, often shabby buildings, suffering years of neglect, seem to be disappearing with increasing frequency. Whether by lack of maintenance, vandalism, or deliberate demolition, the Bush is thinning out just as developers gear up to build out the South Works site. They have plastered the area with advertising, some of which looks rather ironic in the context. Will the vibrant histories of these buildings be lost and replaced by a vibrant future full of big-box shopping and identical houses and apartments for a middle class that backers desperately hope to attract? The development project timeline stretches to forty years, so we have a while to find out.
I’m not able to find much about this house. It claims for itself the address of 407 W. 77th Street, but city records place it at 7700 South Stewart. It’s a ramshackle, gambrel-roofed frame house dating to about 1909, and it has clearly seen better days. When this picture was taken in 2009, there had clearly been a small fire in the attic or top floor. I’m not sure what the current state of the house is.
That’s an aerial view of South Shore, my neighborhood in Chicago. And a palpable example of the one really cool thing about flying, the views and the fun of trying to figure out what you’re looking at. I’ve created a Flickr set for these shots that I’ve been accumulating, and I’ll add to it periodically.
Here’s a view of Century City, Los Angeles, showing the hotel I had checked out of mere hours earlier on my last trip there. Easy enough for me to identify, having just been there.
But what about this conurbation? Sight unseen, I was able to figure out that it’s Vegas – and the tall buildings are the Strip.
The dramatic arid landforms of the southwest produce stark, almost abstract vistas from the air – like this, Glen Canyon in Arizona.
Sometimes flying provides a unique window on current events too, like the shot above of a mountain wildfire. The smoke plume blurred into miles of haze to the east.
Friends Charlie & Sara got married in a picturesque lodge at the edge of the Colorado Rockies. I was there with my camera. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding, and therefore quite easy to get good shots. Here are some of my favorites; full set here.
There was also a little hiking, but very little owing to the extreme heat.
As part of the Feast exhibit at the Smart Museum, artist Theaster Gates staged a series of soul food dinners at the Dorchester Projects. On one of the appointed evenings, the professional photographer booked for the occasion was unable to make it, so it became my first and only “pro” photography gig. What follows are a few of my favorite shots; a larger set is online here.
This is the size of my backlog of photos to edit and post. If I ever hope to post anything again, I think I’m going to have reduce the amount of effort that goes into tagging, captioning, adding to groups, etc, and focus on just getting things up. More polished pieces and coherent collections will be featured on reallyboring.net, as always – but my Flickr stream is going to have to become more of a photo hosting space and less of a finished product in its own right, for the sake of my sanity.