Between the Wrigley Building towers Minolta Maxxum 5 35-70mm f/4 Maxxum AF Zoom Fujifilm Fujicolor 200 2022
I’m fascinated with the Wrigley Building in Chicago. You’ll find it on Michigan Avenue, on the west side of the street, just north of the Chicago River. The building has two towers connected by an arched pedestrian walkway. This creates a courtyard of sorts, one of concrete rather than of grass, between the towers. I find this to be a stunning view and I love to photograph it.
It struck me as I stood in downtown Rushville, Indiana, photographing the Farmers Trust Company building that I have photographed a number of bank buildings in my travels with Farmers or Farmer’s in the name. Here are all of the Farmers bank building photographs I’ve made that I could find. All of these banks are defunct, and house other banks and even other businesses today. Now I’ll be sure to photograph Farmers/Farmer’s bank buildings wherever I see them.
Thorntown Library Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor GAF 125 Versapan x/7-72 @ EI 80 2021
I made a few photos on the expired GAF 125 film in Thorntown, a small town here in Boone County, Indiana. This is Thorntown’s library. This is the original building, one of the hundreds of libraries industrialist Andrew Carnegie build around the country. I documented several other Indiana Carnegie libraries here.
I’ve now shared the best of my photos on this roll of very expired film.
While I had that 1972 GAF 125 (Ansco Versapan) film in the Nikon N90s, I visited the Pyramids, office buildings in northwest Indianapolis, to make some photos. I had the 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor lens attached. The Pyramids are so large, and the 50mm is narrow enough, that I struggled to fit all of the Pyramids in the frame. I wished I had mounted a 35mm lens! But when you’re out photographing, you make the most of the gear you have on you. I filled the frame with Pyramids, and walked a good distance back from them in their office park for some across-the-retention-pond photos. These images show some streaking, which isn’t surprising for film that’s pushing 50 years old. I did my best to clean dust and debris off these scans but they’re not perfectly clean.
While we were in New York I couldn’t figure out how I felt about visiting the new World Trade Center and the neighboring memorial. Ambivalence gave way to curiosity, which yielded to revulsion. Then ambivalence returned and stayed. But visiting the site was on the must-do list for Margaret’s teenagers, who accompanied us. So off we went.
I took just a few photos, and only these two are worth a darn. Above is the new World Trade Center, and below is the waterfall in the north pool of the memorial site directly to the south.
These photos offer no connection to the place. This could be any tall building; this could be any man-made waterfall. I think it’s because I didn’t want to be connected to this place. And the memorial felt sterile to me.
We walked from there a couple blocks to St. Paul’s Chapel. Margaret knew only that it was a 1766 church among the lower Manhattan skyscrapers, and that therefore she wanted to see it. We didn’t know its special, critical connection to the aftermath of 9/11.
We learned that for eight months St. Paul’s Chapel was an aid and comfort station for everyone working the recovery. The building was open around the clock; volunteers fed and prayed with the workers and various doctors came to tend to their medical needs. Musicians even came to play for everyone.
Despite being so close to the collapsed towers, St. Paul’s survived without even a broken window.
Even though this is still a functioning church with services every Sunday, memorial panels full of photographs line the north wall inside. I wasn’t prepared for that. I had hoped to get away from my feelings about 9/11 by just enjoying and photographing the architecture here. The only photos I took of the memorials are two photos of patches from police and fire forces around the world. They were sent here in a show of solidarity and mourning for their injured and dead comrades.
The rest of my photographs were typical-of-me architecture shots, trying to record a solid sense of this building. Back in Indiana there are no buildings from 1766. It was a great joy to experience this one.
It is a lovely church, perfectly maintained in every detail.
We stepped out back and found a graveyard. In New York as in Indiana, churches used to bury their dead out back. It was surreal to see these very old gravestones amid the towering buildings all around. It was even more surreal to learn that in 1766, St. Paul’s Chapel was the tallest building in the city. I loved imagining a time when that would have been true. Apparently, the church was surrounded by orchards!
St. Paul’s Chapel is a stunning building. But I recognized that because I couldn’t escape 9/11 here, I wasn’t connecting to it in the ways I normally would. And then I came upon the bell.
It was a gift from the city of London to the city of New York after the attack, a symbol of friendship and solidarity across the oceans. This is where it all connected for me: this tragedy had worldwide reach, and it affected everyone who heard of it. There’s no shame that my feelings about 9/11 remain unsettled, uncertain. I cried here for a minute, quietly.
I shot my Canon S95 raw, which meant a lot of post-processing in Photoshop when I got home. It takes a little time to tweak each photograph for its best look. It gave me time to process not only my feelings about our visit to these sites but also more of my feelings about 9/11 itself. While processing photos, I slowly reviewed the day and thought about each scene, including those I didn’t photograph. That time and space to think, alone in my quiet home office, let me find a little more peace.
One photograph I didn’t take was of one of the pews. A few years ago St. Paul’s removed most of its pews, replacing them with individual chairs arranged in a U. But a couple pews remained in the back. In this church so perfectly maintained, the pews were gashed and gouged and chewed up — by the heavy shoes and gear of the recovery workers who rested on them. These pews remain as a memorial.
It was emotionally difficult to follow the news stories of the recovery work in the months following the attack. I dealt with it by dissociating from it. But seeing those gouged pews made those people and their experiences real. And so I don’t need a photograph of those pews; I’ll never forget them.
Canon PowerShot S95, shot raw, processed in Photoshop.
Harry & Izzy’s Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK Ilford FP4 Plus Ilford ID-11 1+1 2021
Despite what it says over the door, Harry & Izzy’s is a steakhouse. This building only used to be a jeweler’s. Actually, only the facade still stands here — a new building was built behind it. Harry & Izzy’s is part of the sprawling Downtown Indianapolis mall, Circle Centre.
Margaret and I had a Downtown night out not long ago. We saw a play and had dinner. Service wasn’t great so we didn’t linger for an after-dinner drink. The bar at Harry & Izzy’s had exactly two seats open, so that’s where we went.
Clearly, Margaret and I have relaxed our COVID restrictions. We are placing faith in our vaccines. When I’m eligible for a booster, I’ll get it straightaway.