Photographs of the Art Institute, Taken 119 Years Apart (1893 – 2012)

About a month ago, I came across a stunning image of the Art Institute via Andrew Huff. The image is amazing – the building on its own, with little else visible in the background and Michigan Avenue looking barely more than a simple cobblestone street.

Since I work nearby, I got the idea to try to recreate the original with a photo taken today. I walked over with a few of the early photographs on my iPhone and, using them as reference, tried to position myself as true to the originals as I could. The end results aren’t perfect, but I hope they are close enough to convey what I saw: the incredible passage of time, the modern world overtaking the old, the stark contrasts between then and now.

Click each image to see a larger size.

An early photo, taken near the intersection of Adams and Michigan.

Photo taken today. I returned to this location on two different occasions, but there always seemed to be some kind of delivery truck (FedEx, UPS) parked in the exact same spot, obscuring part of the view.

Taken along the side of the Art Institute. When I first saw this photograph, it took my brain a minute to actually adjust to what I was seeing.

I’m not 100% sure, but I believe this was close to the same spot.

When I first came here a few weeks ago, the area was still closed to the public. I was tempted to hop the fence just to grab the shot, but ended up talking with some employees and asked permission. Got shot down, and ended up waiting until the weather got warmer. I’m glad I waited though, since I was able to capture people actually sitting on the steps.

Personal note: the fountain area is a favorite spot for me and my wife. We often take our lunches here, and it’s where I proposed to her, four years ago.

This is the image that I first saw, and the one that took my breath away. It appears that this photograph was taken sometime between 1890 – 1901, but it must have been around 1892/1893, after construction of the building was completed and the Institute relocated.

Taken on April 8th, 2012.

In looking over the images, comparing the older ones with the ones I took… I played around with placing them side by side. Click each image to see a (much) larger version.

Art Institute, from Adams and Michigan.

Art Institute, Side Steps.

Art Institute, from Jackson and Michigan.

All of the older Art Institute photographs were originally found/posted by Chicago Past.

[via me3dia]

Lunch with Liz (2006)
Lunch with Liz (2007)
I Propose Marriage And Liz Says Yes: We’re Engaged!
Lunch With Liz @ The Art Institute (2008)
Lunch With Liz, Fountain At The Art Institute (2009)
Liz And The Lady Grey Coat: Finished Photos

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cool!

    Ben Reply

  2. Funny, in the old photograph their is a guy who is holding a package – early UPS? Most be a delivery ‘vortex’ at that site!

    jim w Reply

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