A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape

A new book demonstrates that even the ugliest industrial structures have a certain beauty when you consider their utility.

"Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape demonstrates that our artificial ecosystem can radiate similar beauty... When seen through the discriminating lens of author and photographer Brian Hayes, man-made objects appear as exquisite and natural as organic ones. Radar domes echo the beauty of a fly's eyes, a crop-irrigation rig takes on the twiggy grace of a praying mantis, and the miles of telephone towers and wires along US highways fuse into the western horizon."

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Finding Beauty in the Rust Belt

My neighborhood's last bastion of the Industrial Revolution was razed a couple of years ago opening up the lakefront skyline after more than a century of cutting off public access to Lake Michigan's shores. Today South Chicago Neighborhood is slated for revitalization. There are remnants around the community though that apparently will be lasting reminders of a time when steel mills were king. As a result of the Information Age that's in full swing these structures are the subject of many proposals like apartment conversions from huge poured concrete silos (because it's not cost effective to demolish them), to making museums out of abandoned turn-of-the-20th-century coke plants with rare architectural elements. An old railroad bridge that spans the river between two neighborhoods is out of comission, permanently elevated and nicknamed South Chicago's "Golden Gate." There are local artists renderings available in print adding to the attempted romantization of the era. All the years of toxic waste and refuse dumping, as well as the constant wrestling with city and corporate officials to complete remediations needed to make many of the areas habitable to the public seem to take away from anyone embracing these places wholeheartedly. Instead a slight feeling of annoyance persists when you see them, and a melancholy regret that such hyper-industrialization had transpired in the first place, degrading the once rich ecosystem.



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