Thursday, July 23, 2015

MILWAUKEE IN BLACK & WHITE


Admittedly, Milwaukee's skyline is below average for a city of its size.  Sure, one can photograph the downtown from the south shore to catch the commercial buildings along the lake, highlighting, let us say, the Milwaukee Art Museum's Calatrava addition.  But, objectively speaking, the city's huddle of office and high-end residential towers is modest in size, somewhat spread out, and generally unremarkable in architectural distinction.  That is in keeping with the city's blue collar and industrial roots.  Over the past few weeks I have made efforts to capture some of the more traditional aspects of the city's architecture, much of which has seemed to work better when rendered in black and white.  I thought I would post some of those photos here.

I shot a number of the buildings straight on.  I thought that technique worked fairly well when the subject building, large or small, could be isolated from its neighbors, as in the following shots.







A few included smokestacks, which I assume are no longer functional.



In other cases I shot the buildings at an oblique angle, either because I couldn't easily isolate an individual building or because I wanted to incorporate the larger scene.




And in a few instances I contented myself with a shot of a portion of a facade, as in the following.



I think what strikes me most about this collection is the fact that so much of Milwaukee's urban architecture was created at a time when masons took pride in their workmanship and creativity.  In recent decades glass and steel have largely supplanted the brick and mortar of a hundred years ago, but  there is much to be said for the detail in construction that is no longer economically feasible.

All of these structures, whether humble or ornate, are no longer in use or at least not in use for their original purpose, but each of them has a story to tell.

John

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