Randolph Street, 1963
The Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection at Indiana University is one of the most mesmerizing photography collections online--especially if you're a Chicagophile.
Cushman was a Chicago businessman who was not famous or noteworthy beyond his circle of family, friends and associates. But he liked photography. And what makes his work unusual--and thus worth celebrating--is that as early as 1938, he shot in color using Kodak slide film. As a result, a pre- and postwar Chicago that is normally seen through black-and-white photography is presented, by Cushman, in crisp, brilliant color.
Much of his photography captures the last days of older, decaying Chicago. Among the most striking is this 1944 of Potter Palmer's castle at 1350 N. Lake‚ Shore Drive. Color makes the doomed pile seem even heavier, sadder. The building that essentially created the Gold Coast (the rich folks followed the Palmers from the South Side when this castle was built in 1885) would fall to the wrecker's ball six years later.