Here’s a photo by fellow college student (when I was a college student), Pieter Buttelman, taken at the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Taken with actual film and printed by the photographer in a real darkroom!)
UIC was envisioned by the architect as this super modern school, with three levels, tunnels, which never happened, the ground level, and upper walkways. When this photo was taken, the removal of the upper walkways was underway or was about to begin.
While the style of architecture at UIC is brutalist, the walkways were immensely practical and I loved them, I was sad to see them go. Removing them also messed with the buildings: think of all the doors, floating on the second floor, suddenly with no porch.
UIC is near Pilsen, where I’m a part of the Pilsen Deriva project, so this is part of the whole looking at my history and mapping of that project.
Historically, UIC was not a part of Pilsen, though it has encroached closer and closer, through the use of eminent domain. The northern boarder of Pilsen is the elevated train tracks and around Halsted, UIC owns pretty much every building from Roosevelt Road to the tracks.
There’s one church that fought and managed to stay alive.
UIC was built on the rubble of an Italian neighborhood bulldozed by the first Mayor Daley to make way for the university.
UIC also destroyed the then-vibrant Hull House complex of 13 buildings, tearing all of them down but two and turning those into a museum.
This, UIC, is why I don’t give to the alumni association. While I got a great education and made friends and had fun in college, as an institution, you’re kind of horrible.
One of the other things they destroyed, through eminent domain, was the Creative Reuse Warehouse, formerly on O’Brian street near the original Maxwell Street Market.
CRW was this amazing, huge, slightly messy, okay, really messy, warehouse that sold stuff donated by businesses, museums, by the bag, to teachers and artists and whoever else showed up. It was the original (in Chicago) save stuff from the landfill while providing affordable stuff for teachers and artist. I still have materials from CRW that I’m using, and they closed years ago.
(Yes, technically, CRW still exists, but it’s a shadow of its former self, kind of like Hull House Association was before it died, a few years ago.)
Here’s a photo of the space where CRW used to be:
If you’re interested in artwork around the subject of UIC and eminent domain, there was a large scale piece done around the time of Pietr’s picture, you can see it in the book, Culture in Action. (available on amazon or at your local library.)
I’ll be doing an art piece involving mapping, photography and more as part of Pilsen Deriva, the final exhibition will be in early November at the UIC Maker Space (somewhat ironically) inside the Mana Contemporary building. Sign up for the newsletter on the home page to get a notice of the exhibition.