Early afternoon light fills the south end of this turn of the twentieth century building.
“Outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.”
– H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream Quest
Chicago’s skyline has many facets. Viewed from varied distances and vantage points, the city center can look imposing, majestic, or at times surreal. On postcards, views from the lakefront dominate. But I have always loved the view from the near South Side, at a point in the city’s topography where the low bungalows of Bridgeport and Chinatown give way to the utter flatness of river and railyards before exploding skywards north of Harrison Street. The building pictured in the foreground is the only thing that breaks the aforementioned flatness around Roosevelt Road; it is the power plant for the nearby train station and (now defunct) post office. In the background, lit green for National Emesis Awareness month, is the Sears Tower.
Light streams onto power plant machinery through a hole in the roof.
Standing near the complex in Tabula Rasa’s last post was the old power plant that once served the factory. It was not totally barren inside, the ivy had made great headway across the floor.
The single most remarkable aspect of this building was the amazing light contrast between rooms.
Though I realize that most of my shots fall into the rather well-worn niche of “urban decay” (“ruinporn” if you’re inclined to be less genteel), I still feel I have to justify myself at times, especially to friends and acquaintances. There is a perception among some that what we do is misguided at best, dangerous and juvenile at worst. Don’t fear, this is not the preamble to some righteous rant. Rather, I present the following and ask the reader to decide whether there is beauty there, regardless of subject matter.
I’m stealing from and adding onto the Idiot Photographer’s previous post, as it captures in words what I think we look for on film (so to speak).
Some say prayers, I say mine.
One nice thing about photographing buildings: you can always go back for another shot. And that’s what you do, because it’s about being there as much as it is about the shots themselves. So it was with the defunct power plant. I wanted to have another crack at HDR from the outside.
There are just so many details hiding in plain view that it’s impossible to capture them all well the first time out.
Paths previously trodden reveal tableaus previously overlooked.
Improved lighting makes a shot possible, as in the case of these despairing lockers in an otherwise pitch black room.
Or, finally, a relaxation of my fear of heights got me across a steel catwalk and into this room.
Part of the fun of returning to places we’ve already explored is finding when things have changed. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it takes you a moment to see it.
Case in point we visited the Power Plant again today and found that all the metal grate flooring was gone. At first I was wondering how the hell I missed the awesome view of the second floor from the ground floor, then I realized there was no such view last time I was there.
So who ripped out the flooring I wonder? Was it the town? Was it scrappers? The property owner? Either way it restricts what you can explore once you climb the scary stairs, which I suspect is why they were taken.
This is a short series on a great find of ours, a coal power plant in Chicago’s south suburbs. This HDR on this shot is a bit dodgy, but it captures the presence of the place. It’ll have to do until I can reshoot it.
As one climbs higher, one has to make judgement calls about the relative safety of successive paths. I didn’t take this one.
At the top of the plant, at the end of a queasy climb, is this giant room. No idea what purpose the rails served, but if one was to fall through them, it was a fifty foot drop down into a huge vat.
Made in Chicago.
Row of somethings.
Do not climb.
One of the locations for my “In the Dark” series is an old power plant that, from what I can tell, has been shut down since 1977 or so.
The insulation (asbestos?) has come free from the piping, whole sections of grate flooring are missing on the upper levels and the place rattles and booms on the wind. It is like christmas came a month early for us!
There are mysterious bits and pieces, as well as whole machines left to rust in place. A playground for adults.
I wonder what this did. . .
Sometimes I get a little spooked while walking among the machines, in this place that once was loud and incessantly busy but now is quiet except for the call of a train horn in the distance, the howl of wind, the clattering of loose metal meeting brick.
I also wonder who Gilroy was.