Pretty Flamingo

Pretty Flamingo

When she walks by, she brightens up the neighborhood
— Manfred Mann, Pretty Flamingo

The landscape has changed significantly since I moved to Chicago 25 years ago.  Some change for the good, other change not so good.  Developers have all but destroyed the branch of the Chicago River that bisects the north from the south.  Tall skyscrapers now line the river, obstructing vistas.  When there was one, everybody in the office or condo had great views, but now many of the those views are largely obstructed.  

In that same time, the Fulton Market District went from largely food distribution warehouses and a few restaurants to a restaurant mecca, and more recently, a residential area.  For the most part, this develop has been good, but it is now at risk as developers want to to build up.

Until recently, River North was a holdout.  There have been changes, but buildings like the one that houses the Flamingo Rum Club at the corner of Wells and Ohio dominated the space--low rise brick buildings that rarely reached more than five stories into the sky.  Not anymore.  In the last couple of years, the owners of properties have started to sell them to developers for profit.  In the last year or so, four high-rise apartment projects have opened.  There are several new buildings just about to reach completion on LaSalle Street.  And I suspect more of low-rises will soon be gone.  In one sense, you can't blame the landowners.  They've held out for two or three decades, using the rent to cover carrying costs.  Time to cash in.  

For the time being, the Flamingo Rum Club has a home.  It is the type of establishment that makes a neighborhood unique.  Who knows whether it will be there in five or ten years.  Let's hope so.  I have not been in the club, but it looks like a fun place to hang, so maybe I will have to give it a shot.

Photographer's Note:  I photographed this structure a week ago, but did not like the results.  I came back today with my tech camera to do the building justice.  This is a stitched, three image composite.  When I first arrived on the scene, the building was totally in shade.  I looked over my right shoulder, and saw a high rise that had been built ten or so years ago.  Part of the block on which the Flamingo Club sits in bright, afternoon sunlight, but not the club.  I estimated that it would take about an hour for the sun to move far enough west to illuminate the Flamingo Club's facade. Right I was.  Interestingly, the lighting of the facade was not as gradual as I thought it would be.  When I returned to the site, about a fifth of the facade was illuminated.  It only took ten minutes for the rest of the facade to pop.

People can be very annoying.  Some passers-by were mindful of my efforts, stopping to avoid walking in front of the camera.  Others weren't, like the jerk who leaped in front of the building, raised his arms, and demanded that I include him in the photograph.  I also had to deal with traffic headed in front of the facade on Wells street, and traffic coming off the Kennedy Expressway on Ohio.  There were also two groups of photographers who were oblivious to my efforts, and who kept walking into my frame.  They should have known better.  In all, I suspect it took about 25 cycles of the traffic light to make this photograph.

A Discovery

A Discovery

Al's Italian Beef

Al's Italian Beef