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I Am Chicago and So Can You
October 5, 2010 5:56 AM   Subscribe

A photo studio roams the earth. I Am Chicago records the colorful denizens of Chicago's many neighborhoods, precisely as they are found. (via Gapers Block)

The rich, the poor, the nerds, and everyone in between.

A handy map.
posted by theodolite (35 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those Lakeview guys are not exactly typical. Look like some of the crustpunks who wander through every now and then.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:09 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm disturbed by 5/32 of the North Ave Beach shots. That kid--- will he want that picture up later, after his classmates harass him about his man boobs? And why do we need to see 6/32 (the three girls) from their backsides?

The one featured under Lincoln Park is my worst nightmare. Twin baby boys dressed like aviators in weird glasses by a woman pregnant with her third (or second set) and her husband. I'm trying to figure out how I know each of the well off ones are well off. Clues: 1) Twins dressed in matching outfits 2) they're white 3) curious george backpacks for kids whose parents want them to be attached to them 4) expensive looking dogs (cutest part aside from cute twins) 5) smiling white couple that looks pregnant or the guy is weaing khaki shorts and man sandals

Um, those leashes aren't for the kids, right? Or are they? There isn't a dog or dogs in that picture.
posted by anniecat at 6:15 AM on October 5, 2010


Looks like Richard Avedon: In The American (mid)West
posted by echo target at 6:16 AM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mark, Thomas, and Cole in Lakeview are what you see if you look up "Middle-aged Mid-West gay couple with kid" in the dictionary.
posted by The Whelk at 6:19 AM on October 5, 2010


I find it creepy that I'm not finding (that m)any interracial couples or friends of different races. I heard that Chicago was hyper-segregated. It shows in a lot of these pics from the different neighborhoods. That's unfortunate.
posted by anniecat at 6:19 AM on October 5, 2010


I've always been a huge fan of this guy's flickr stream. He does an absolutely incredible job of capturing New Yorkers in their natural surroundings.
posted by schmod at 6:22 AM on October 5, 2010


9/29 on Hyde Park is most definitely not named Jacob. He is in my Classical Hebrew class at U of C. Also, a lot of these are awfully glam-shot. Pretty cool though, I suppose.
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 6:46 AM on October 5, 2010


I think these folks must be pretty damn good at immediate, street-level human relations, to get this many nice shots of people looking so friendly and/or relaxed. That alone is impressive, as far as I'm concerned. And I think many of the portraits are excellent. Thanks for the post, theodolite.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:59 AM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


(aka MeFi's Own Gaper's Block)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:04 AM on October 5, 2010


What adamdschneider said about Lakeview. Also, 26th and Cal is the Courthouse, not the jail, and in any case, not a neighborhood as much as an institution. /pickingnits.

Nice project, though. Funny how only the Gold Coast and Little Village mirror the pictures I have in my head from childhood
posted by crush-onastick at 7:04 AM on October 5, 2010


My favorite, by far.
posted by Sfving at 8:06 AM on October 5, 2010


Hey and I saw two people I knew. Now I can say, "Hey, Omar!" when he sits next to me on the el in the morning.
posted by readery at 8:07 AM on October 5, 2010


I also saw two people I knew. Awesome.

The hyde park shots don't really reflect the diversity of our neighborhood, though I guess that diversity varies by block. My block is pretty integrated, others might be majority white or majority black.

The Englewood shots capture the neighborhood really well in my opinion. I was worried it would be too many teenage boys in low-slung pants, because that's who tend to be out and about on some blocks. But it captured the real cross-section of the people who live here - lots of smiles, lots of kids.
posted by mai at 8:14 AM on October 5, 2010


Also don't assume people at Rainbow Beach are poor, that beach draws people from all across the far south side.
posted by mai at 8:16 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat: "I find it creepy that I'm not finding (that m)any interracial couples or friends of different races. I heard that Chicago was hyper-segregated. It shows in a lot of these pics from the different neighborhoods. That's unfortunate."

Huh? Looked pretty diverse to me. I'm in Lincoln Square and you can't swing an ironic handbag without hitting interracial couples. My area is well represented here. This photo set also confirms my belief that Clark and Belmont is a Mental Hospital without walls. For some reason, that corner just seems to attract a wide swath of loonies.

Overall I really like these photos. Very tastefully done and yes, reminded me a lot of Avedon.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:21 AM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Punkin Donuts at Clark and Belmont is ground zero for annoying kids panhandling while wearing more expensive boots than you own.
posted by Babblesort at 8:31 AM on October 5, 2010


My own hood comes off as rather fun-loving and diverse. It sure is mixed, although how much social mixing goes on between racial groups is unclear. 28/44 is really sweet, tho. 32/44 gets best t-shirt prize.
posted by LMGM at 8:32 AM on October 5, 2010


I love this project! I am pretty sure I'll be sharing this when I teach about neighborhoods in my Chicago History class. I think my students will be able to draw some really interesting conclusions from the pictures.

Also, I also saw someone I know! Ha!
posted by Hop123 at 8:33 AM on October 5, 2010


Um, those leashes aren't for the kids, right? Or are they? There isn't a dog or dogs in that picture

Man, I'm kind of tired of people hating on toddler leashes. Yeah, yeah, helicopter parents and all that, I get it, but those things are a life saver, literally. I cannot tell you how many times my very independent and strong-willed son would have run into the street had he not been on his monkey leash.
posted by lexicakes at 8:37 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is great! I keep thinking I've spotted someone I know. I guess that shows that there's definitely a Chicago type, or types.

A lot of the photos look a little distorted to me, as if the subjects were shot from slightly above center with a slight fish-eye distortion.

I love seeing how people who posed solo chose to represent themselves. I know if it were me I'd better have a prop, like Marco in the Magnificent Mile set.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:38 AM on October 5, 2010


I didn't see anyone I know even though one of the intersections is a block away from me. Damn.
posted by enn at 8:38 AM on October 5, 2010


adamdschneider: Those Lakeview guys are not exactly typical.

True. They are representative of that corner -- if it was still 1991, and I was 16, sneaking into the city to get in as much adventure as I could but still get back by 7:30 curfew and hot punk skater guys and boys holding hands made my eyes pop out of my socket, even when I was there with my girlfriend, but especially when I was not.

Sometimes I think people always look through parts of the city the way they first experienced them. Sometimes I'm jealous of them, but usually I'm not. Too much has happened -- both to the neighborhoods and to me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:25 AM on October 5, 2010


I see THREE people I "know" in those photos! Wow, three of them. I did not expect that at all!

Chicago is hyper-segregated? Nah, I don't think so. I don't see it. Hell, I'm in East Lakeview right now, which may appear to be all white if you're zipping down Broadway in your car, but let's see... my best friends who live four blocks away are an interracial couple (black/white), as are my upstairs neighbors (Equadoran/Russian), my across-the-hall neighbors (Japanese/Polish), my building super, aka my Schneider, who is from I-have-no-idea-where (I'm guessing he and his wife are Middle Eastern, but they have very different accents, both unfamiliar to my ears), the guy who sold me a gyro last night is Turkish (he lives in my friends' building with his white gf), my cat's veterinarian who lives in the 'hood is Fillipino, and I've met her girlfriend of ten years, who is a light-brown Italian woman with an awesome accent, the boycouple I had cocktails with last night are white/South Korean, the cabbie who carted me back home was definitely west African, and my own last bf was Puerto Rican (I'm white). And the two before him were straight outta Israel and Russia. And I used to live in Logan Square, which seems to be a good mix of Puerto Rican, Mexican, white American, and Polish. And probably a bunch of other stuff I missed in my ten years there.

All that said, this was pretty cool. I read the first Avedon comment and was like, "WHAT?! No! They're not like... oh wait... yeah, I totally see it." Funny how protective we get about our heroes. Yeah, it's all very In-The-American-West-esque. Love it.
posted by heyho at 9:39 AM on October 5, 2010


The gays! <3
posted by d1rge at 9:44 AM on October 5, 2010


Chicago is hyper-segregated? Nah, I don't think so.

Let me guess, you live on the north side.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:04 AM on October 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes; Lakeview is on the northside. It's not like I don't travel to the south and west sides and have friends there. I see areas that seem more black, more white, more Indian, etc., but I don't think of the city as being "hyper-segregated," do you?
posted by heyho at 10:16 AM on October 5, 2010


Lincoln Square looks like it was taken during Mayfest or Octoberfest (you can tell by the mugs), so it's more representative of "People who like to go to a closed off street, play carnival games, drink beer, eat sausage, and listen to German Music" than "Lincoln Square residents". So, most of Chicago.
posted by true at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2010


Yes; Lakeview is on the northside. It's not like I don't travel to the south and west sides and have friends there. I see areas that seem more black, more white, more Indian, etc., but I don't think of the city as being "hyper-segregated," do you?

Aside from a few outlier neighborhoods, yeah, I do. Did you see this thread from a few weeks ago? Here is Chicago's racial map.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:35 AM on October 5, 2010


(aka MeFi's Own Gaper's Block)
*removes cap, bows*


Chicago is hyper-segregated? Nah, I don't think so.

Well, it's segregated, but not necessarily hyper-segregated. Shakespeherian, one thing to note from the racial maps is that most cities in America are segregated. Chicago's not unique in that -- or, put another way, it's no more "hyper-segregated" than most of America.
posted by me3dia at 10:58 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's actually more what I was thinking, me3dia. I've lived in two areas I considered to be hyper-segregated, Detroit in the late 60s, and Flint, MI for a brief period in 1991-92. I get that there is separation of sorts that happens, but it was definitely the "hyper" bit that I was referencing and responding to.
posted by heyho at 11:24 AM on October 5, 2010


Yeah we're definitely just disagreeing on the use of the prefix 'hyper,' then. I'm coming at this from San Diego, not Flint.

Also, I apologize for coming across as condescending or eye-rolly above. That wasn't my intention, but I am frequently dumb-ish.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:36 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


My grandfather owned a tavern on Madison near Pulaski back in the day which I have dim memories of, so I gravitated towards that group of pictures and the Lake and Central pictures as that is another intersection that I can place every building in my mind's eye.

Yeah it's a segregated city. Local west siders (Austin and Garfield Park) may travel out of their neighborhoods to obtain goods and services that are not available to them locally, but others rarely venture in.
posted by readery at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2010


Anyone else struck by the very pronounced starboard list of so many of the subjects? It's like the studio is jacked-up on one side and they're compensating.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:23 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is Chicago.
Is not Chicago.
posted by scratch at 8:18 PM on October 5, 2010


I think this is incredibly well done. There are some technical issues with some of the photos, but we're not talking polished, stylized studio photos here.

I love them all.
posted by imjustsaying at 3:53 AM on October 6, 2010


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