Three poles carrying a bit of everything communicate with a neighboring wall. Much care has gone in to maintaining all these wires and the wall, with its band of red and conscientious tuckpointing.
A rooftop shows the work of generations, its flaking chimney, paint-spattered shingles, and ancient tar-paper overlaid with present-day graffiti, satellite dishes, and solar panels.
The backlands are looking different than they did back in January. Chicagoans have begun to plant up their decks. The ivy clinging to the buildings is green. The lawn furniture that has lain neglected for months under tarps or, more commonly, snow, has been straightened into formation, ready for the next party or gathering of the clan.
A replacement section of the Wells Street Bridge rests on a barge in front of the Merchandise Mart. The bridge repairs that started several weeks ago are about to enter their second phase, and the bridge, from which I took this picture (and this one and this one), will again be closed.
People are fascinated by the el, specifically by the experience of being under the el in the middle of the city. I admit to sharing this fascination, though I also like to imagine how much more beautiful downtown would be without the elevated—if, like all the other train lines, it were buried underground in this part of the city.
Be that as it may, the rusty old Loop isn’t going anywhere soon. So all of us chroniclers of Chicago can carry on with one of our favorite projects: trying to capture what it’s like being under the el. Go to any summer art fair and you’ll find entire booths filled with views of this kind. The el is fun and grabs us, let’s face it.
Here I messed with the perspective in Photoshop to heighten the sense of enclosure that occurs when you drive under the el.