They All Fall Down; Richard Nickel's Struggle to Save America's Architecture

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Overview

This riveting biography chronicles the life of a crusader and the early days of the historic preservation movement. Beginning with a portrait of Nickel's youth on Chicago's West Side in the 1930's to his army service as a paratrooper and photographer, it progresses with his studies at the Institute of Design in the 1950's and his attempts thereafter to save Chicago's buildings, especially those of Louis Sullivan. Includes 70+ illustrations and a special portfolio of duotone photos, printed on fine paper, taken by...
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Overview

This riveting biography chronicles the life of a crusader and the early days of the historic preservation movement. Beginning with a portrait of Nickel's youth on Chicago's West Side in the 1930's to his army service as a paratrooper and photographer, it progresses with his studies at the Institute of Design in the 1950's and his attempts thereafter to save Chicago's buildings, especially those of Louis Sullivan. Includes 70+ illustrations and a special portfolio of duotone photos, printed on fine paper, taken by Nickel during his lifetime.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
This compelling biography covers Nickel's youth on Chicago's West Side, his army service in the mid-1940s, his studies at the Institute of Design, and his attempts to save buildings and salvage works of art until his death in 1972 while salvaging material from Sullivan's Stock Exchange Building. More than a biography, this book chronicles the early days of the historic preservation movement, interweaving portraits of other important figures such as Mayor Richard J. Daley, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Aaron Siskind. Featured are more than 70 duotone photographs in a special "portfolio" section, printed on archival paper, taken by Nickel throughout his crusade to save Chicago's buildings. A remarkably low price for so much book. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Donna Seaman
You wouldn't expect to read about a photographer when you research American architecture, but Richard Nickel is an integral part of the story. A shy yet passionate man, Nickel developed a deep love for architecture and great skill as an architectural photographer. He also became one of the first to publicly demand the preservation of landmark buildings in Chicago, his hometown. Nickels would, undoubtedly, have been remembered for his stunning photographs and preservationist zeal, but his tragic, martyr-like death in the rubble of the once magnificent Stock Exchange Building in 1972 ensured his immortality. Cahan tells Nickel's story with tremendous empathy, setting it within a history of Chicago architecture, especially the work of Nickel's idol, Louis Sullivan. Nickel set himself the task of finding and documenting all of Sullivan's creations but soon discovered that many of those glorious structures were suffering from neglect or, worse, were about to become victims of urban renewal. The master photographer became a witness to those thoughtless demolitions, meticulously documenting the demise of buildings he loved. Not content with pictures, Nickel also became a devoted salvager of Sullivan ornament, enabling museums to preserve fragments of Sullivan's art. Now Cahan has preserved Nickel's memory in this handsome volume illustrated by more than 70 of Nickel's photographs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780891332152
  • Publisher: National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Publication date: 5/1/1994
  • Pages: 261
  • Product dimensions: 8.32 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.15 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 7, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2000

    A Treasure for Architectural Preservationists

    Richard Nickels was a strange fellow, and I don't know if most people would be comfortable in his company. He desperately wanted to save what he considered to be Chicago¿s architectural landmarks, but in the end grew terribly disconsolate, finding few allies in Mayor Daley or others within the city¿s power structure. He managed to save many bits and pieces before the wrecker¿s ball arrived, some of which went to Southern Illinois University, but tons of which ended up in landfills after his death. Do you need this book? If it sickens you to see a beautiful old building torn down, then yes. If you read ¿Lost Chicago¿ and were amazed at the priceless treasures we¿ve squandered, then yes. If you think the now burgeoning architectural salvage industry is a good thing, then yes. Nickels fought to save buildings, but when that failed, he saved everything he could. The book doesn¿t claim he was a pioneer or innovator in that regard, but then I haven¿t heard of anyone else who dedicated their life to the field. The Trading Room from the Stock Exchange Building ¿ where Nickel¿s died ¿ survives in the Art Institute of Chicago today only because of his efforts. We almost certainly owe him a far greater debt than the book has claimed, since he helped to publicize the threat to our architectural heritage and started building a consensus towards preservation and salvage. The book will amaze and annoy you. You¿ll learn much more about Nickels¿ personal life than you would want to know. You¿ll wish he had finished some of the writing projects he started. And you¿ll wonder how much more he might have accomplished if he had lived a bit longer. It¿s a book that makes you think, and one you won¿t soon forget. - tjm

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