Seeing in a New Way

Last week, I took my annual trip to Chicago, the city where I grew up and where my mother lived until her death over three years ago. While she was alive, I went there more and more frequently. But now I content myself with an annual pilgrimage to see family and friends, and to revisit my roots.  My continued visits to the city are somehow really important to me.  Yet another circular experience in my life.

How many thousands of times have I walked on Michigan Avenue where this photograph was taken! But not so often with camera in hand, feeling part tourist, part long-time resident. Waiting to be surprised by the city I still know so well.

So as I looked through the lens, I was really pleased to capture these three iconic Chicago landmark buildings in one shot.  In the foreground is a part of the original Water Tower, which is one of the only buildings to have survived the devastating Chicago Fire of 1871.  In the middle is just a small slice of the “new” Water Tower, a six story shopping center which has become a destination in itself.  How perfect that the words were the only things framed by this view. And in the background stands the distinctive Hancock Building, once the tallest building in the world, now not even the tallest building in Chicago.  The tiny shape of the tall building in the upper right corner is the Ritz Carleton Hotel, one of Oprah’s many homes.

I was truly delighted to see all this at once.  It made the proximity of all these buildings very real to me, and their juxtapositions brought thoughts about architecture, urban planning, and the symbolism attendant on the giants of commerce they house.  I gained new insight about the process of seeing and about the so-called happy accidents of photography.


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