A visit to my home town of Clarendon Hills brought a surprise: the unremarkable train station from the mid-twentieth century has been replaced by a modern station and platform with a lot more greenery and some really interesting materials.
The station itself uses both lacquered rails (on the left) and wooden slats at odd intervals (Fibonacci-esque, but I didn’t measure to be sure.)
This week’s theme on Decaseconds is apparently athletic fields. In the suburban Chicago grid, little park oases like these are a delightful break from the monotony.
Chicagoland’s nearly 2D topography and nineteenth-century population boom conspired to make for a remarkably uniform grid of structures and roads. Even the water that might “go rogue” in another setting is often confined to the grid.
Where Illinois meets Lake Michigan, a sunny winter afternoon makes a natural instance of the “classic” orange and teal look.
An early-evening flight into Chicago puts the setting sun behind the skyline along Lake Michigan, reflecting silhouettes from the placid surface.
The grayness of Chicago-area sprawl takes on a golden hue at sunset.
At the dawn of aviation, flight was magical. Then, it became routine. Now, after months in lockdown, a view above the clouds once again feels pretty special.
Rainy nights on the interstates are threatening, and few sights represent that better than the aligned brake lights of 18-wheelers, glaring out between the raindrops.
For 28 years, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois was the site of the now-dormant Tevatron particle accelerator. For three summers during high school and college, I worked in the archives there, helping to catalogue, maintain, and restore the physical history of the place. (Given the time frame of today’s pictures—the early 2000’s—you’ll forgive the poor image quality.) I wanted to share a few images of the place (in particular, its enormous swaths of restored prairie) and try to convey to you the everyday feel of the place.
Perhaps the most salient feature of the lab is the prairie itself. Other than a berm over the accelerator, a few tangential buildings, and the main complex, the vast majority of the 6,800-acre site is natural midwestern landscape, dotted with disused farms and watched over by birds of prey.
The reason for the old farms and strange buildings is linked to the provenance of Fermilab: in the early 1960s, towns competed to be the site of the latest and greatest national lab. The town of Weston, Illinois won the honor, and in doing so, ceased to exist. The residents were bought out (by the choice of their village board) and the remnants of the village still exist on site as ancillary buildings (including the archives, where I worked.)
The farmland was largely restored to prairie, and the unique buildings of the lab were assembled. Among the fascinating sights at the lab are these Shinto-influenced power lines, designed by the lab’s first director, R.R. Wilson. (He was also responsible for the lab being finished on-time and under-budget.)
Wilson Hall, seen in the distance of this landscape, was named in his honor. Here you can see some of the lab facilities proper, including a beamline on the left of the image.
Watching the Grand Prix tends to be the time when I shoot pictures of horses, not people, but this particular moment had a fascinating “broken symmetry” to it: the trellis and the ramp are organized perfectly, but the biological elements (the tree, the shrubs, the people) perturb that symmetry.
When horses take baths, it’s a bit less dignified than the human equivalent. Nonetheless, I loved the interplay of the repeating wooden stall geometry with the smooth and random biological shapes of the horses.
Today’s post comes courtesy of Piper J. Klemm:
Maggie Bracco and Alex Jayne’s Thomas Edison, Winners of the $10,000 Welcome Stake at the Showplace Spring Spectacular II at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois on June 13, 2013.
Chicago’s suburbs are filled with older train stations like this one. In an area where quaint, older homes are often knocked down to make way for McMansions, these stations are sometimes an area’s only link with the past. (Luckily, Hinsdale is better than most areas in this respect.) On a particularly dramatic and thunderstorm-ready afternoon, this particular train platform feels like it could be unstuck in time.
Bright and fresh and “Easter-colored,” a horse show in the summer reminds me of a Seurat painting: tall trees, broad trellises, vibrant flowers, and spectators in pastels.
Everything is parked, arrayed, and prepared in precisely the right position for maximum efficiency. This might not really be the case, but when I stare through the airport glass, I see a ballet of criss-crossing tools and machines harnessed for travel.