The Aragon 1994

The-Aragon-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

This is the photo that EVERYONE in my class seemed to rave about. The composition, the lighting, etc. etc. To tell you the truth, it was a fluke. I was standing by the EL doors as the train entered the Lawrence Ave. station. I looked out the window and The Aragon caught my eye–I have a thing for old theater signs. Just as the train was about to depart the station, I quickly snapped two shots. This is one of them. As much as I’ll admit that this shot was a fluke, It did define this project. Views of the city, or simply, Urban Views.

Red Line Near Irving and Sheridan, 1994

Near-Irving-Park-and-Sheridan-via-El-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

I saw this one day riding the Red Line up north to explore the city. I lived on the northwest side and never felt like I saw the city until I started photographing it. This mural was on a wall somewhere near Irving Park And Sheridan — close to Uptown. Being so used to an environment that seemed semi- suburban, these views seemed more ‘real’. As I felt some uneasiness, I also felt inspired. I began to see what my project was about. Focus…

Leaving Paulina, 1994

El-Train-Departing-Paulina-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

That quick instance where it seems everyone in the world pours out of these trains and before you know it, the train departs and all you hear is the rumble of the track and the occasional toot of the horn. Back then, the trains going out toward Kimball weren’t quite as crowded as they are now. That train line itself grew in ridership over the last twenty years. They even reinstated service to the Loop on weekends by the late nineties. That silence as you’re alone on the platform has changed now. You always have a automated voice saying ” A Brown Line train toward the Loop will be arriving shortly.”

Paulina/Roscoe/Lincoln, 1994

Lincoln-and-Paulina-1994Looking-North-Lincoln-and-Paulina-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

I used to get off at the Paulina Brown Line station to go get photo supplies at Darkroom Aids on Lincoln. It was a bit sketchy back then. The gentrification from East Lake view hadn’t reached there yet. I found gems of old signs begging to tell its story of the golden days. Looking north, Pellys Liquors remains, but Darkroom Aids folded a few years after this photo due to bad management. The building was torn down and replaced by condos. That empty lot has new stores there. The new Brown Line station is now on the south side of the street, bigger and better than…. We’ll depends on how you think of it.

Congress Theater, 1994

Congress-Theater-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

Everytime I pass the Congress, I wondered if it would ever be restored to its former glory. It would be great to see a vertical neon sign and a lit marquee. It’s still being used as a music venue. It’s located on the southern end of Logan Square, just before the Western stop on the Blue Line. Change had started to come there as well in the last 10-15 years. Some say it’s like Wicker Park was in the nineties–but I disagree. The change is different in Logan Square.

Vintage Shoes, 1994

Vintage-Shoes-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

Around this time, vintage anything was popping up everywhere . This was evident here in Chicago, especially Wicker Park. Of course at the time finding mint saddles shoes or a nice red and black chrome 1950s dining set was in decent abundance. Nowadays, you’d be pretty lucky to find a original in good condition. The ones I’ve seen recently were all crap unless you bought a replica for new.
It’s funny how in the midst of all the technology of that time, how there was such an underground movement to bring back the mid twentieth century. In this period, I fell in love with the ideologies of The Beats. Going out and doing your things for kicks really inspired me. That’s why I started to dig the art scene in Wicker Park back then. Everything happening coincided with how I felt. It seems like the dressed-in-black days of the old Belmont and Clark were over, and a new, plaid shirt bohemian existence was beginning.

Gentrification– Wicker Park, 1994

Gentrification-Wall-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

To some, gentrification meant purging the past and allowing a brighter future. To others, it meant higher rents and long time residents finding new places to live. Wicker Park first drew in artists looking for work/live spaces for cheap. With that, they brought stability and hope to an area once known for hypodermic needles on the sidewalks and prostitutes on the street corners. Unfortunately, these artists found themselves ousted by the Yuppies who came to the Around The Coyote festival every year. The large poster to the left of the frame says it all.

As a side note, that wall is now an Italian restaurant and the Firehouse where that meeting was held is now a Potbelly’s sandwich shop. “Give a shit”.

Damen Ave. Blue Line Station 1994

Damen-Blue-Line-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

In 1994, Wicker Park was already the ‘hot’ new area in the city. It was the heart of Chicago’s music scene, and a flourishing art community. Change was evident everywhere . In the two years since I started to come down here, more and more places were popping up. Anything from vintage clothing stores, to bars, to coffee shops. It was an exciting time for this neighborhood, once a pretty rough area in the city.

900 Block Of Belmont Looking West 1994

900-Block-of-Belmont-Looking-West-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

I started hanging out in the Belmont and Clark area (known as Lake View) around 1989. I was into the whole New Wave/Post-Punk scene and would go to a teen night club called Medusa’s which was about two blocks from where this photo was taken. Across the street from here is a Dunk in Donuts which was affectionately known as Punk-in Donuts due to the crowds of teen Punk Rockers who would congregate there when Medusa’s let out.

When this photo was taken in ’94, the area had gentrified immensely. Medusa’s was gone (It became a Real Estate office) and Kokomo’s Caffe was soon to be history. Slowly the grit and the bad ass charm that was Belmont and Clark of the eighties was becoming more upscale with the influx of Yuppies moving there. Rents in the area doubled by the end of the decade. It looks so different today, but occasionally I’ll catch a fragment of something that harkens to the days of my youth when black was the only color I ever wore.

Medici’s 1994

Medici's-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

Not too far from the mural is a place called Medici’s on 57th. I haven’t been there in years, but from my recollections it’s known for its pizza and its graffiti etchings on the booths. I also remember a rum torte that was phenomenal. Located not far from the University of Chicago, a big university hangout. This place always screamed “character” to me.