University of Chicago Archival Photographs

(Found via the blog of The Oriental Institute)

The University of Chicago’s archival photograph collection is gradually being placed on-line. Much of the collection is available now, and it covers the campus and the surrounding communities of Hyde Park and Kenwood and even farther as there are historic photos of Oxford and archaeology expeditions — the collection is so comprehensive, it even includes photos of Armageddon (admittedly, it’s the city, not the ultimate battle, but still, ya gotta be impressed). The earliest photos date from 1867 (the final days of the Old University of Chicago) through the 1960s. Of the thousands of images, there are a surprising number that will be of interest to Wright fans. Fifty-one photos are listed under the Frank Lloyd Wright category, but there are hundreds of fascinating photos that relate to Wright, at least tangentially.

apf2-06528r.jpgObviously, pride of place (for our tribe, at least) should go to The Robie House. There are 43 photographs of Wright’s 1910 Prairie Style home. These including a number taken during construction, a few drawings and even a few of the occupied interior (including this one featuring both clutter and ugly Nineteenth Century furniture).

Hyde Park was also home to the Wright-designed Midway Gardens. There are six images from Midway Gardens, though three are from printed advertising material. I didn’t see any pictures of the Heller House, but there is a lone, beautiful photo of the oft-forgotten Blossom House (actually, one of my favorites)

apf2-03551r.jpgAlso of interest is Hitchcock Hall, a Prairie School-influenced residence hall on campus. Designed by Dwight Perkins, it’s striking meld of Prairie and Collegiate Gothic, two styles that go surprisingly well together and Perkins seems to have done an excellent job fitting the building into the un-Prairie campus.

For World’s Fair nerds, there are 170 photos of the 1892 Columbian Exhibition. Mnay of the photos are astoundingly clear, and beautifully capture the architecture of the fair. There are even two images of the Ho-o-den (here and here) a Japanese contribution to the fair that sparked much architectural interest.

Many of the archival photographs are interesting for simply showing what Hyde Park was like when the Robies and the Hellers chose to live there. There are nearly 300 photographs indexed to Frederick Law Olmsted (this map is awesome)and almost as many listed under “Hyde Park”. Admittedly, not everyone gets as excited as I do about historic photos, but I gotta think you’ll like this link.

[All images: Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.