In Progress

©2019 Michael Priorie Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Looking back at a lot of my work from my film days of the 90’s, the word ‘gentrification’ played itself out in the many subjects I had photographed. I’ve seen many neighborhoods in Chicago undergo extreme change. While the premise of this was ideally good–to make neighborhoods safer and better–it’s outcome made it’s original residents refugees as these areas such as Logan Square became the land of developers and wealthy implants. Artists first come for the cheaper rent, the hipsters support neighborhood shops and start up new ones. But the developers and property owners are the ones who buy up the real estate, only to charge ridiculous rents in order to make the neighborhood theirs instead of everyones. This is another one of Sam Kirk’s murals, a multidisciplinary artist whose art focuses on the culture and history of these neighborhoods undergoing change.

Holiday Club, 1997

Holiday-Club-1996-©2019 Michael Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

Around 1997, I went on a road trip to the West Coast. While in San Francisco, I stumbled upon an underground scene where Swing music was enjoying a revival. It was complete with clubs that played live big band music and cool kids who dressed in vintage 1940’s Zoot suits and poodle skirts. Fedoras were a must. The trend came to Chicago to places like the Holiday Club but it didn’t get a big as it was on the West Coast. That was too bad because I enjoyed getting dressed up in vintage clothes and seeing those big bands play. 

6 Corners, 1995

©2019 Michael Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

In Chicago, the area of Portage Park where the intersections of Irving Park Rd., Cicero Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue meet is traditionally known as 6 Corners. Some people out there will immediately argue and claim Milwaukee/Damen/North Avenue as 6 Corners– It is not! In my forty plus years on this earth, it’s always the area on the Northwest side of the city by where the (former site) Sears is located. This photo was taken on a foggy evening in December 1995.

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.

Belmont ‘L’ Station 1994

Belmont-Red-Line-Station-1994

©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

One of the busiest ‘L’ stations in Chicago. The Red, Brown, and Purple lines all stop here. This IS the hub of Chicago’s North side. The station was rebuilt some years back to accommodate the large passenger loads and looks nothing like this picture. This view to the west has also changed. The spread of gentrification now reaches as far as Western Avenue. At this time, it was nearing Ashland, about a mile west. The liquor store on the corner is still there–with its bright neon sign, but sadly, Muskie’s is gone.