Water view

Chicago Sketches
Jean Audrey Butridge

Chicago rising greyly in the wet mist. Moment at dusk when buildings are silver sword thrusts of slim shadow. Lights flashing like crystal beads on the dark suede walls of the Carbon and Carbide Building. The rain stops suddenly ... a gold-rose sifts through the grey haze melting gradually into the sharper outlines of night, quick night in Chicago. The Lake boils up threateningly, then slips quietly back thru the reflections of the Navy Pier lights. The city is cut by a white-beamed revolution of the Lindberg Beacon, imperially slanting the sky. Michigan Avenue is a steep precipice spotted with brilliance, overhanging the sparkling plain of Lake Michigan. Randolph Street blares into State and the swarming theatre crowds ... smart women in Chincilla wraps...eager expectancy of newsboy faces, hoarsely proclaiming significiant incoherencies ... thin lines of chattering Elevated couples bordering the block of the State and Lake for "Frankenstein" ... a twisted-face beggar cursing the First-Nighters slighting for "Lysistrata" ... a dance band throbing faintly up from the street-opened grilled door of the Morrison Hotel. The display windows of Marshall Fields are mysteriously shrouded in dark brocade drapes ... a cheap lingerie shop is glamourously edifying in the dim glare cast back from the street ... "L" trains reeling overhead ... down Wacker Drive ... homeless ones wandering aimlessly with small bundles loosely grasped ... dirt-caked sidewalks ...tattered newspapers ... whining handmeouters ... crowds hurrying thru the night for a lake trip ... Vina Delmar characters, and three Indian princes "seeing the other side of life" in the company of three University of Chicago female students (not "co-eds").

Across the bridge of the Chicago River is the white purity of Wrigley Tower, gorgeous edifice conceived thru chewing gum ... hoary dignity of the modern Gothic Tribune Building ... blue exotic glow from the splendid Medinah Temple ... good-taste serenity of the Drake Hotel ... the amber lighted Water Tower, castle structure Water Tower Saks-Fifth Avenue ... the blocked mass sequence of the new Palmolive Building ... widened boulevard verging into the quiet elegance of the Gold Coast ... close clipping of the Bohemian district ... sordidness and street fights ... the Dill Pickles Club ... the "Hole in the Wall."

Down the alley into a greenish atmosphere of blatant music, unescorted girls, sickly murals of wisp- shouldered, big hipped motifs ... penciled innuendos ... smartly groomed couples slumming ... pseudo- intelligentsia and honest souls striving for expression among the fifty-cent emotionalism ... "Jack", the one authentic bopo, proudly exhibited to expose his blue eyes and the brown, his general uncouth dress and sweet-faced, submissive quizzicalness, for a polite dance with a curiosity seeker in black velvet and Peacock pearls. Socialist, communist, sensualist, atheist, and a German exchange student with dreams in his eyes...Poets, fools, idealists, heatedly and boredly discussing themselves. A wave of half-grudge interest ... the floor clears slowly ... green lights change to reddened lamps ...into the dim circle moves a girl in a flame gown ... she snaps into a dance ... the audience calls directions ... she mechanically responds. She finishes and drifts indifferently into the arms of one of the men as the couples return to trudging the ragtag renderings of the sullen band. One becomes tired and leaves early, missing the rotten-fruit fight sensationally recounted in the morning newspaper.

The theater crowds have deserted the Loop ... cars go sparsely and slowly ... the air is clean and crisp from the Lake ... the air is fresh and smooth ... the Lake is cool and quiet ... Chicago moves in a slow rhythm...the lights, thick as in daytime, taper down the drive ... southward ... the Lagoon is a soft ribbon of dull caught metal ... the fog settles thinly ... Chicago ... blurred ... subtle steel grey values ... Chicago

Slender city within a city, sheltered by the Greek stability of Fields Museum, bordered by the Olympic chin of the Stadium ... whimsical modernity of a new Water view classicism ... steeped value contrast, in arrogant competition to the austere Ancient neighbors ... verve of adaptation of modern style to individual nation interpretation ... the curved roof of the Golden Temple of Jehol, transplanted from the Lama period of Chinese architecture ... its red lacquer and gilt in juxtaposition to the rectangular clean lines of the Hall of Science ... illumination of blue and scarlet banked lights in solid mass ... carillon sounding full, richly rounded, from the tower of the Hall of Science mingle with gong crashes of the Golden Temple ... Beyond the great ramp is the Administration Building ... broad block of white and grey...triangles from cornice to pylon in scarlet toothed rows ... facade decoration of two Herculean figures in aluminum low relief represent Science and Industry, symbolized in smooth disks and Water view simplified line of gears and wheels ... the high ceiling is laid upon the windowed walls ... aluminum corner piers are reflected in the polished black, rubber floor...the Travel and Transport Building with its "breathing" dome supported by cables ... like a skein of fine lines in taut diagonals from the diamond edged panels of walls, multi-numbered ... visitors within shouting inanities to discard the echoes reverberate weirdly ... the Electrical Group is a pattern of whites, reds, and yellows in striking contrasts, accented by gold, silver and blue in bold geometric design ... sculptured decoration of fifty foot square reliefs, symbolizing Man's struggle with Nature ... Half builded fragments give body to dreams of massed cypress trees and golden gardens, slim splendors of illuminated fountains, curving scarfs of jeweled color ... all is a brave palette of brillaint hued pattern in areas of infinite sweep and sleek delineation ... of a bacchanal in repose...At day, the tawdy becomes apparent, the carnival atmospher of "Rides" equipment, refreshment stands, and cheap foll the public wheels of chance, fifteen cent admission and "amusements" ... from a tall diving platform, a blindfolded swimmer leaps into a pool ... a small blimp, affectionately known as the "Captive Balloon", despite a wild adventure over the city during one windy day, slides up its cable with a cargo of dollararide passengers ... the replica of Ft. Dearborn is bleak in the sunlight; deserted as tho' its pioneer inhabitants had been massacred but lately, and the stockade left empty and unguarded ... it stands aloof, almost tragic ... an emotion of far away passion and conquest, father to the sophisticated poise which surrounds it ... as the sunlight fades the barnlike appearance of the Fair buildings give place to an overtone of subtle mystery, loosing its transient quality ... night gives a lie to daytimes' impermanence ... colors flood on ... the illumination is a mad splendor on the heroic constructions ... Chicago exults in her offering ... the nations thrill to the World's Fair ... little boys are peeping thru the crevices of the imposing weed wall ... the activity of the grounds becom more and more fevered ... the little boys are seeing a city rise ... magnificent ingenuity ... the World's Fair is the beat of many hammers ... Progress ...

Federal building

[Mother, High School,
Writing, Chicago Sketches, The Whistle
Art - 1, Art - 2, Art - 3]

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