Chicago's South Side, 1946-1948 by Wayne F. Miller, Orville Schell |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Chicago's South Side, 1946-1948

Chicago's South Side, 1946-1948

by Wayne F. Miller, Orville Schell
     
 

Wayne Miller's photographs chronicle a black Chicago of fifty years ago: the South Side community that burgeoned as thousands of African Americans, almost exclusively from the South, settled in the city during the Great Migration of the World War II years. The black-and-white images provide a visual history of Chicago at the height of its industrial

Overview

Wayne Miller's photographs chronicle a black Chicago of fifty years ago: the South Side community that burgeoned as thousands of African Americans, almost exclusively from the South, settled in the city during the Great Migration of the World War II years. The black-and-white images provide a visual history of Chicago at the height of its industrial order—when the stockyards, steel mills, and factories were booming—but, more important, they capture the intimate moments in the daily lives of ordinary people. Miller was adept at becoming invisible, and his photographs are full of naked, disarming emotion.

One of the first Western photographers to document the destruction of Hiroshima and the survivors of the bombing, Wayne Miller had just returned from his stint as a World War II Navy combat photographer under the direction of Edward Steichen when he received two concurrent Guggenheim fellowships to fund his Chicago project. Taken over a course of three years beginning in 1946, his photographs span city scenes from storefront church services to slaughterhouse workers in the taverns at night to a couple making love.
In addition to affording a glimpse into the hopes and hardships shared by a community of migrants who had just made the long journey from the rural South to the urban North, the images collected in Chicago's South Side reflect the enormous variety of human experiences and emotions that occurred at a unique time and place in the American landscape.

A few celebrities appear in these images—Paul Robeson, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington. But mostly we see ordinary people—in clubs and at church, sporting events, parades. Much is on view that is of interest to the student of mid-twentieth-century black Chicago: the neighborhoods Richard Wright's Bigger Thomas traversed in Native Son, the Bronzeville limned in Gwendolyn Brooks's earliest poems, and the street life that inspired the urbanscapes of painter Archibald Motley. The kitchenette apartments that Miller so deftly memorializes are bursting with people of all ages sleeping, dressing, courting, and dreaming. One senses the intimacy between his subjects and the emotions that animate their lives.

Gordon Parks's memoir of poverty and hope in the freezing tenements of the South Side supplements the photographs, while Robert Stepto's essay contextualizes the South Side in the history of postwar Chicago. Chicago's South Sideis a superb testament to the talent of the photographer, to the spirit of the people the images portray, and to the moment in American history these photographs capture.

Editorial Reviews

Columbus Dispatch
"Miller's ability to fade into the background as he captures real life is consummate.
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
When cultures collide, sometimes it takes years to piece together the story of how it all came about. Abundant evidence of this can be seen in CHICAGO'S SOUTH SIDE, in which Wayne Miller documents the beginnings of one of the largest cultural transformations this country has ever known.
Chicago Tribune
These pictures of arresting beauty capture the emotions and intimacy of everyday life in Chicago as blacks flooded into postwar Chicago.
UK Nova Magazine
Miller's pictures of entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne and sportsmen like the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson were as alluring as anything in a fashion magazine. What's more, they have the warmth of real humanity and the unforced, uncontrived beauty of people who are largely unaware of how beautiful they are.
New York Times Book Review
Miller's work is intimate but never presumptuous; each black-and-white image retains its mystery. You realize there is more to know about this community than a camera's eye-or ours-can find. It is part of his gift that he knows this too.
H. Scott Jolley
Miller's composed, intimate pictures are finally collected in Chicago's South Side; they show dapper men and women sharing beers at a local bar )love that bebop wallpaper), families squeezed into tight tenement quarters, fervent prayer meetings, and other intense glompses of a bygone era.
Travel and Leisure

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520223165
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Series:
Series in Contemporary Photography Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
127
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

From the commentary by Gordon Parks:
Wayne Miller shows us what I remember most-those garbaged alleys and wintry streets where snowflakes fell like tears, those numberless wooden fire traps called home, the homeless gathered around flaming trash cans to escape the hawk of winter, those crudely worded signs . . . those old men reclining in forgotten chairs left at curbside for moving vans that never showed up.

Meet the Author

Wayne F. Miller, a photojournalist, was a member of Edward Steichen's World War II U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit, associate curator for the famous The Family of Man exhibit and book at New York's Museum of Modern Art, a contract photographer for Life magazine, and a member and former president of Magnum Photos. He co-authored Baby's First Year with Dr. Benjamin Spock, authored The World Is Young, and currently owns and maintains a redwood forest in Northern California. Orville Schell is Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. Gordon Parks is a photographer, filmmaker, author, poet, and composer. Robert B. Stepto is an author and Professor of English and African American Studies at Yale University.

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