Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Chicago: East Chicago’s Industrial Past

My family worked at U. S. Steel. It’s humbling to see this video. I miss home. I’m in Iraq.” – LANC1982, commenting on this video

I am 19 years old and have worked in the East Chicago Inland Steel plant for over a year now… my family has worked in this mill for 3 generations and this video pays tribute to those that have worked here and all steel workers everywhere…Stay safe guys!” – v8stangugy, commenting on this video

If you want to understand the industrial Midwest, this four minute film by East Chicago artist Thomas Frank and the quotes above tell you everything you need to know. Last I looked this video only had 500 views. It should have more like 500,000. I think it’s as good as the original music video. Please pass it along. If the embedded video doesn’t show up for you, click this link.

Normally I’d add extensive commentary, but this video speaks for itself.

Thomas also runs a blog you might want to read.

Topics: Historic Preservation, Sustainability, Urban Culture
Cities: Chicago

10 Responses to “Chicago: East Chicago’s Industrial Past”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great post. A very gifted photographer, Dave Jordano with whom I worked in my previous life as a graphic designer turned me on to Marktown about 10 years ago. He has two series of images on his website that capture the social aspect of the place.


    I see that Dave also has several series of images I had not seen before called “Prairieland.” I think they visually express a lot of what Richard Longworth wrote about in his great book “Caught in the Middle.”

  2. P.J. Hinton says:

    The South Shore Line poster reminds me of a poster that the South Shore freight operations commissioned back in the 90s. The image can still be found on the site.

    link to artworkUsing similar lettering as the older style of poster, it referred to “Taking Care of Business”.

    P.J. Hinton

  3. Kevin says:

    Marktown is amazing…looking at aerial photos, it is absolutely surrounded by heavy industry.

    I don’t know much about the “Region”, and it’s not a subject I see featured often. Thanks for your work.

  4. Anonymous says:

    90 years ago my grandfather worked as a plasterer, one of the army of men building Gary and northwest Indiana as they built lives and families.

    He made enough to go home to Ohio and start his own contracting business. His sons went to Ohio State and became engineers and managers. His grandsons and granddaughters do a little bit of everything under the sun. None of them are plasterers, though one is a carpenter and woodworker.

    The imprint of industrial Indiana is forever upon my once-agrarian family…this video reminded me.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    It’s not that strange to park cars on the sidewalk. In the older parts of Tel Aviv, the streets are too narrow for full parking lanes, so cars park 2 wheels on the street and 2 on the curb.

  6. David says:

    Hi Urbanophile,

    One of your Cleveland posters claimed that their city was the second largest theater district outside of New York. Detroiters always claim a similar accomplishment. Can you shed light on this mystery? Who is right?


  7. The Urbanophile says:

    David, I don’t know. Do they publish league tables of such a thing? Toronto supposedly claims the same thing. What is a theater “district”? How do you measure it? Chicago’s theater district has the Harris Theater, Chicago Theater, Goodman Theater, Oriental Theater, and Palace Theater all along the greater Randolph corridor. This doesn’t count other major Loop theaters like the Shubert Theater (or whatever it is called now), the Auditorium Theater, the Civic Opera House, etc. or small theaters. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know how many theaters are in Detroit or Cleveland, but I’d be impressed if they had more theaters/seats than in Chicago’s Loop.

  8. Jefferey says:

    I did a little spread on Marktown and the Indiana Harbor area over at Urban Ohio.


  9. Jefferey says:

    BTW, the WPA published a regional guide to the Calumet Region. Hard to find but a library here in Ohio had it. It’s is extremely detailed. Worth a read if you can find it.

  10. The Urbanophile says:

    Jeff, I knew I had seen a thread on this somewhere before. Those are your pics I take it? Great shots regardless. Everyone should check it out.

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