I recall it was enough, in high school, to mention you were going to the “Southside” to cement your badass cred. It would suffice to say you had driven past a numbered street (most east-west streets south of Madison are numbered in Chicago, as opposed to their conventionally named counterparts on the north side) to get a wide-eyed stare of fear and respect. When I had gotten lost as a freshly-licensed sixteen year old and wound up in a fender bender on 111th street, my friends acted as if I had walked into Mordor and back out again.
When I began work at the company I’m still with, I wound up having to drive around the Southside as part of my job. As I got to see the vast swaths of industry, housing projects and rusting infrastructure, my interest in urban exploration was born. Not yet urbex, in the sense of exploring the abandoned, but just visiting the less traveled corners of the city. There was a fascination in coming across the loneliest intersection in Chicago, or a former Nike missile launch site. Early on, this particular vista made a big impression on me: the bend in the Calumet River around 130th and Cottage Grove, looping around a massive factory. I’ve never been able to get a shot which captures the impression this peninsula makes on a passing motorist. I think one would have to get closer, maybe shooting from a boat on the river. But here’s my last attempt from a recent visit, all gussied up in High Dynamic Range and melancholy colors. Perhaps you’ll give me points for style.
The Idiot Photographer has for some time been posting shots from our recent trip to Ohio, so it’s up to me to catch up. We spent most of our time in Cleveland, so it’s fitting we begin here. Below: Carnegie Avenue bridge over the Cuyahoga River.
Two shots of this bridge from opposing sides.
Former dock cranes line the canal separating the Centro from Puerto Madero, an aesthetic nod to the neighborhood’s blue-collar past. The areas is now home to upscale restaurants and hotels.
This pedestrian bridge connects central Buenos Aires with Puerto Madero, the city’s newest neighborhood. The name literally means “women’s bridge.”
From Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, a vertical lift rail bridge. Serves primarily (as far as I could tell) Amtrak and the local commuter rail service Metra.
View from the east bank of the Chicago River.
A tugboat pushes a barge south through Chinatown.
During our weekend in St. Louis we spent a bit of time contemplating the bridges of the region. In the city they are not the prettiest structures around which I found a little peculiar given that I am accustomed to bridges that have been gussied up a little bit and not left looking totally utilitarian and industrial. Our river is no where near as impressive as theirs, but generally our bridges have generally been painted or lit to be visually striking to those using them or passing by. It wasn’t something I noticed right away, but after a discussion with our bartender at Bailey’s Range (they make the best hipster burgers I’ve ever had. Seriously, if you’re ever in the area go there, get the Korean BBQ duck burger and tell James we say hello. You won’t regret it.) we got a tip on a rather striking bridge not too far from town. You’ve seen the view from it in TR’s most recent post so I decided to share the bridge itself.
I don’t have an ultra-wide angle lens, so rather than trek up the bridge on foot for a view of Alton I chose to go the other direction and scurry down the riverbank for a view of the bridge.
While fighting the brambles and spiders I decided to go ahead and attempt a pano of Alton itself since I thought the gaudy casino riverboats made a nice contrast to the industrial and stoic character of the town as seen from the far bank.
The Mississippi, as seen looking north from US 67 bridge about 10 miles north of St. Louis. Alton, Illinois, is on the right bank.
We do a lot driving through industrial areas, not often stopping. But sometimes you see something that stops you in your tracks.
Like the Cline Avenue bridge.
Then you suddenly realize that the power lines for this neighborhood are not your standard lines.
On the other side you have a veritable industrial wonderland of bridges.
As well as an uneasy reminder that all those puffy white steam clouds aren’t just steam.
By the time we moved around to the other rim the canyon the snow was letting up a little, but I still didn’t have much by the way of light.
In the end just being there, freezing my ass off in a snow storm in June standing on the rim of the canyon and watching the torrent of the Yellowstone River plummet over the edge was such a fantastic experience I don’t mind that I didn’t get the “perfect” shot.
While we are enjoying a break from the warm and muggy weather that typifies Chicago summers I figure I’d remind myself why I detest winter so much and go back to pull a few pictures from last winter’s Milwaukee trip.
It was 14 degrees out and the windchill was negative something-or-another-godawful. The whole day was spent combating hypothermia and wondering if we were crazy to be doing this. In my book, yes we were crazy, but it was so worth it.