This splendid video from Vimeo by Max Wilson of chicagotimelapse.org, called “Chicago: Windy City Nights,” shows off Chicago in much (if not all) of its glory. Chicago is the city of my birth and is considered a mecca amongst architects, mostly for its modern architecture. This video focuses not on that, or on the city’s excellent classical architecture, but on the city’s skyline and grid of streets in night-time time-lapse photography stitched together as if it were a film. It shows a lot of traffic – streets lit up by street lamps but also etched in the headlights and brake lights of traffic. It shows a lot of clouds rushing by in the sky. The moon proceeds faster than usual. Some buildings are distant, some in a middle view. All are shown as collections. Get closer to the city and its buildings and you will find the good, the bad and the ugly is more truly in your face. Mostly it’s the traditional buildings of the Windy City that get the close-ups. Such an experience is not a happy one for modern architecture, even the occasional fine modernist buildings such as are on tap in the Windy City. Close up, classical architecture wins hands down. The vid should have shown more of the classical skyscrapers near where Michigan Avenue crosses the Chicago River. Modern architecture is hardly given any close ups at all in this video, because Max Wilson seems to understand that modernism’s sweet spot is as seen from a distance – a skyline, a jumble of rising glass-scapes. Too bad people cannot zoom around in the sky to be blessed with the best of modernism. No, we must see it from ground level, where its oppressive sterility smacks us upside the head. Luckily, “Chicago, Windy City Nights” is not guilty of inflicting that punishment on its viewers. It won the 2015 Emmy for outstanding achievement in photography. It is a real trip. Watch it!
Hats off (by hand not gust) to Lewis Dana for sending this fine video to me.