Posts by admin:
I lived in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, from 2006 to 2014, teaching English at two universities there. I arrived as the city was demolishing the last of its ancient neighborhoods in its rush to “progress;” to waste so much valuable architectural and cultural heritage seemed criminal. I wandered the city and documented what remained with my camera. Learn more about the transformation of one historic area here:
The Edison Shop, Chicago, 1912, Purcell, Feick, and Elmslie, architects
I’ve started a new blog to document and write about historic buildings. ArchInform is in the experimental phase, but it has rekindled my love of architectural history. The picture above is from my latest post, The Edison Shop, the first in a series I plan about lost Chicago buildings.
In case you’re interested, you can also check out a digitized version of my first journal publication, Grauman’s Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles, in PDF format here.
No, I’m not talking about my upcoming 65th birthday. Come to think of it, however, I am grateful for Medicare.
I’m talking about an ancient piece of research history, my 1993 M.A. Thesis in art history, titled Three Public Buildings in St. Joseph, Missouri, 1873-1891.
That’s the Buchanan County Courthouse above, one of my three chosen buildings which, within a roughly 20-year period, proudly proclaimed St. Joseph’s “golden age.” I decided to venture into my past and to resurrect my thesis, which survives only in one bound photocopied version, with indistinct illustrations. In case you’re wondering, most theses and dissertations have only been stored in digital format since about 1995; mine is stored in the UMKC library in its original, archival-quality paper format.
Long story short, I have now scanned all 151 pages, put them through OCR software to be saved in an editable Word format, and laboriously proofread and corrected the document manually. The process took two weeks, and was good occupational therapy during COVID-19 lock-down. While I was at it, I sourced new illustrations from the internet, replacing my old, worn, badly-photocopied ones.
Above is the 1873-74 St. Joseph City Hall and Market House, a rather self-important-looking building that was unceremoniously knocked down in 1929.
My slightly altered body of research has now been uploaded to www.academia.edu. Speaking of the digital world, I was amazed to discover how much historic research material is now available online. Many of my original sources, requiring trips to libraries, interlibrary loans, and scanning fragile microfilm, are now available online, searchable and downloadable at the touch of a button. Printed sources dating back to 1873 can now be found on Archive.org and HathiTrust, as well as Library of Congress archives. How extraordinary, then to find something like this:
It’s a promotional booklet for St. Joseph produced about 1901, formerly available in crumbling copies in locked cabinets of local reference rooms, now digitized for anyone to see. Or how about this, a local newspaper article from 1873 available (for a fee) from a newspaper archive site?
That’s amazing. Now that I’m all fired up about architectural research, I plan to do some more digging online, and expand sections of my thesis in future blog posts.
Just thought I’d share that with you.
Fall is here, the cooler weather energizes me, and I try to make the most of my continuing isolation during the pandemic.
In July, I moved into a new apartment, a couple of blocks away from my former studio. This is a one-bedroom, larger, more comfortable, with windows offering views both to the north and south. The act of moving, of choosing new furniture, decorating, and making decisions, occupied my mind and my energies for about a month, offering a respite from the concerns of COVID-19.
It’s also a sentimental journey for me, since I’m on the same street where I lived at age 22, fresh out of college, and being here feels almost like coming home. The reminders of my youth offer a counterpoint to my imminent 65th birthday, and that signifier of older age, Medicare.
Recently, in response to threats by the Chicago City Colleges board to cut teaching hours and teacher positions, our local AFSCME union stages a protest outside Chicago City Hall. To threaten to cut Adult Education programs, at a time when they offer a lifeline to segments of our society most in need, and to threaten teachers’ jobs at a time when 22 million Americans jobs have been lost, is insane.
We made our points – rather loudly – and felt that we were taking positive steps to stand up for our careers and those we serve. This is not the time to cut spending; government, in fact, should be spending more to keep our education system and economy afloat. Instead of shrinking our programs, City Colleges needs to expand its offerings to more of the community, through outreach and recruitment programs for students.
Here are some highlights from our protest: