Chicago Landmarks Before the Lens

Old Stock Exchange Building, Cornell University

The Chicago Cultural Center has an ongoing exhibition called “Chicago Landmarks Before the Lens”. Presented by the Commission on Chicago this gallery features 72 large black and white photographs of 24 buildings in a very small exhibit. Best part of this is the Admission is FREE.

If you like good photography and history of Chicago landmarks this is something you should visit when in Chicago.

The photographs are of the 24 landmarks and historic districts photographs from 1956 to 1987 by the late Richard Nickel, Barbara Crane, Bob Thall, and Stephen Beal. The neat thing about this exhibit is many of these buildings the ones that we might not recognize as being famous but are in the process of being dedicated as famous Chicago landmarks. Such photographs displayed are the old North Western Station and the McCarthy Building.

Richard Nickel is known for his documentation of the many of the architectural landmarks of Chicago. He was the first photographer involved with the Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks in 1969. Sadly, Nickel was killed in 2010 while documenting the demolition of Adler & Sullivan’s work in a stairwell in the Chicago Stock Exchange when the building collapsed. It took four weeks to find his body.

Barbara Crane is known for her prints in many areas with a range exploring sequential imagery, platinum prints to large Polaroid’s, silver gelatin prints, and digital pieces. One of the areas she is known for is her work for the Chicago Landmarks Commission from 1972-1979.

Bob Thall is known for his photography on street scenes and has been a major figure in documentary for some time. He is known for his work in architecture and urban landscape photography with the Chicago Landmarks Commission since 1979.

Stephen Beal has done many exhibitions of his professional photography work and studied with photographer Harold Allen. Stephen Beal is known for his photo of the Delaware Building at 36 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois, Wheelock and Thomas, architects 1872, 1982.

Wouldn’t it be nice if these Chicago landmarks could be saved rather than being destroyed and forgotten. Sometimes buildings are torn down way before they need to be and should be preserved.

The Chicago Cultural Center is located at 78 E. Washington Street, Chicago, IL. Viewing hours for exhibitions are Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Chicago Cultural Center is closed on holidays. Admission to Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions is free.

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