18 / 03 / 2016Marina Amaral

Panorama: Western Avenue and Congress Street in Chicago, Illinois, 1952.

After a month of work, I finished this commission today. That was an amazing project and a very fun image to work with! The client gave me permission to share it here with you all.

“The panorama was made by me from three photos taken by Carl Edward “Ed” Hedstrom, Jr. (1918 – 2009) on 6 August 1952 at Western Avenue and Congress Street in Chicago, Illinois.  Ed was a close friend of mine; I bought his estate from his son soon after Ed’s passing. The reason Ed went out taking photos that day was because the ‘L’ was about to be torn down to make way for the Congress Expressway.  All of the buildings on either side of the ‘L’ had been torn down the year before. The building of the Congress Expressway was a landmark event in the United States as this was the first urban expressway in the United States.  Planning for it actually had begun in 1909.  Building urban expressways in Chicago was politically polarizing as it separated African-American neighborhoods on one side of the highway from the white neighborhoods on the other. The Congress Expressway was later renamed the Eisenhower Expressway for the World War II general and later U.S. President.  In 1956, Eisenhower pressed for legislation authorizing our Interstate Highway system.  In a bitter irony, fearing the destruction of inner-city neighborhoods, Eisenhower did not want the interstate highways to enter the urban areas, but rather to “ring” around them.  And as you saw on the Google Map images, the Eisenhower Expressway does just what the former general did NOT want to see happen as it was built directly to the urban core.  And they named it for him anyway.”