Chicago People

Chicago People

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Here is the heart of Chicago. Not in the commercial dazzle of Michigan Avenue or the plush offices of Wacker Drive, but on the streets, at scrapyards and construction sites, in the shadow of boarded-up apartment buildings, and inside the churches and parks of ethnic neighbourhoods where English is rarely spoken. In this powerful photodocumentary, Richard Younker reveals the "second city" - the shadowy sister of the glittering, guidebook Chicago - through the stories and riveting black-and-white images of its inhabitants.Many of the men and women depicted on these pages live on the edge, or close to it. Some survive by wit and cunning, some by violence, some by grinding, backbreaking work. But they are all survivors, and their stories, gritty and luminous, pulsate with the energy of that survival. These men and women tell of their commitment to work and family, of innocence and the loss of it, of homelessness, alcoholism, and the numbing shock of prejudice. These are the people who loaded your furniture into the moving van, drove the piles for Navy Pier, and fired the steam engines and pulled the switches in the Chicago railyard.Some are working toward a union pension; others are scrabbling to hold onto their "little piece of job.
"Younker takes us to the side door of a Polish Catholic church, to the barbershop and the boxing ring, to a dark corner of the city where "the coldest dealer in the neighbourhood [is] a guy named Buddha." Street-corner musicians have their say, as do drug dealers and undercover cops, housewives and prostitutes, gang members and pool sharks, winos, conmen, and crooked election stewards. Etched in their faces and eloquent in their bodies and postures are the forces that animate their lives: hope and defiance, camaraderie and loneliness, exultation and a clawing despair. Their stories unnerve us. Their spirit moves us. Their eyes hold us and won't let go.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 184 pages
  • 207.8 x 253.5 x 8.6mm | 544.32g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252069935
  • 9780252069932

Review quote

Named a Chicago Tribune "Editor's Choice" -- "Chicagoan Richard Younker takes readers into pool halls, factories, scrap yards, barbershops, boxing rings and churches in the city. In this powerful book of black-and-white documentary photography, we meet people living without luxury or comfort. As winter approaches and we curl up by a cozy fireplace, this book is a reminder of those on the outside." -- Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune "Captures the heart and soul of [Chicago] and its people... Musicians on Maxwell Street are a flurry of activity; young street hoods posture in front of a souped-up sports car; children cling to a man playing dominoes in Humboldt Park; ... Polish dancers kick up their heels; unwavering Chicago politicians lock eyes with the camera; the wisdom of the ages is reflected in an old man's face as he smokes an elaborate pipe; meat packers, ironworkers, railroad repairmen stolidly go about their daily routine." -- Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times "Photographer Richard Younker peers into an auto factory, a church, a racetrack, and a boxing ring in Chicago's People to tell of a 'second city's' daily life and rhythm. Street musicians, undercover police officers, prostitutes, pool sharks, and gang members tell their varied tales in words that accompany Younker's black-and-white pictures." -- Doubletake "To see Chicago through Richard Younker's lens is both an engaging and a sobering experience... Younker's monologues add personality to the photos, as his subjects tell their stories, express their feelings, and entertain each other with anecdotes... The monologues convey the spirit, humor, memories, and livelihoods of Chicago's citizens. Younker's photos provide a compelling view of both the working-class citizens of Chicago as well as the residents who just barely got by." -- Vanette M. Schwartz, Journal of Illinois History "Younker's preface sets the proper tone of a singulaly poignant but unsentimental journey. His subjects, he tell us, 'survive by wit and cunning'; some 'are scorned and feared.' Although the portraits include a large number of perfectly likeable and even innocent subjects... the demeanor of Younker's Chicago people tends quite strongly to alertness, to an awareness of hard facts... I am moved by so many of the photographs and words in Chicago People because they do the work that they're meant to do: they reveal a world that isn't my own... How can any viewer resist the pull ... of a book which challenges us as viewers and readers to be as unrepentant and forthright with our humanity as Chicago people have been with theirs?" -- Michael Hoberman, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
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