A Photography Outing (Edited)
It was cool, it had just rained, and no blue streaks made their way through the dense cloudy sky. Not the best weather for an outing...though it wasn’t like Chicago was ever chock full of nice-weather days. Lucky for me, I love it when it rains, and after it rains. Sure it’s muddy and wet, but a wet ground gives you better contrast, especially when your subject matter is mostly concrete and brick.
I shut the car door and slung my camera over my shoulder. Me and my friend stood in the shipment lot of some large packaging facility. It would have been preferable to us to go someplace obscure, but schedules, traffic, and a plethora of other things deemed it necessary to start small. Several large trucks drove by, paying no heed to us, despite how blindingly out of place we must have looked. A small railroad track, unused, ran parallel to a muddy section of the Chicago river. It was where the river and the track met, that this triangular grassy area was formed, and beyond that was the edge of a chain link fence almost, but not quite, reaching the edge of the river. The crumbling concrete ledge extended about a foot from the fence, covered gratuitously in razor wire, hardly allowing us a bit of space to pass through. Being the gentleman I am, I let my friend go first, so if someone were to fall due to an unforeseen structural integrity issue where the concrete met the water, it would be him. At least I would be safe, dry, and moderately amused.
But we passed by without issue. In front of us, stood a small compound nearly 200 years old. A lot of people knew about it, they came and painted, or took photos, and sometimes a movie director would come and blow something up. They were old silos and distribution buildings, and alongside one of the buildings was a row of garage doors to dump shipments into barges. That’s where we ended up first. We jokingly discussed pirating the rusted barge and parading down the river, but grew more interested in the destroyed brick building instead. Apparently the place had suffered many large grain explosions before being shut down. We walked along the muddy and squishy grass path to one of the large doors. Several windows were blown out, and the whole top floor was half missing. Rubble and burnt wood that had sat for decades continued to sit, providing us with places to step without soaking our feet. The first door we came to had been blown off its hinges. It was about three inches thick of solid steel. Quite an explosion. Bricks and bits of steel lay all over the inside and outside, but the ceiling on the first floor was pretty intact. The entire place was stripped clean, nothing but the work of street artists remained. Further back, the room opened up to loading area. A two story room that ran about 100 feet. The steel beams in the ceiling were bent and twisted from the heat, and the wood framing was buckled and splintered. A few plants grew here and there, pushing their way though the rough surface of man-made unsustainability.
There was nothing there for us, though there was nothing on the entire compound there for us. The stairs were strewn with old paint cans and rubble, which made climbing up a little difficult. The top floor was open to the elements, filled with dirt and leaves, and several bits of greenery soaking up the puddles of rain that had collected the night before. The force of the grain explosion had been sufficient enough to blow out several major portions of the brick walls, scattering their pieces all over, as well as forcing off the roof of the structure, and melting the steel support beams. There was even less up top, not even a good view of the loop through all the fog.
We made our way back out into the wet grasses and peeled inside one of the other buildings. That building was all but gone. The main silos were on the other-side of the property, and the access point was a small platform down by the river. It was a hole in the wall that dropped down into the basement about five feet. We didn’t make it there. The security guard was making rounds and told us we had to leave. It was odd that they were paying someone to sit around and watch the place all day, but then again, what government is completely efficient with spending tax money?
And that was all that we did there. Would have loved to have done some more, but perhaps another time. Who knows, maybe we can take a ride on that barge.
The tracks outside the shipping building. They are rusted from disuse
The Barge and the Razor Wire
This one came out pretty good
a filter of sorts...