The Red Line

Chicago’s notorious Red Line, the loved-hated above/below-ground rail line, the busiest in Chicago, known by any Chicagoan that gets on at any of the stops between Rogers Park (Howard Street) on the City Limits north, through downtown Chicago, and to Roseland (95th/Dan Ryan) on the south. I’ve taken the Red Line since I was a teenager, continued to do so years later when I returned to Chicago.

The Red Line provides an intimate setting in which to appreciate humanity in all of its multifarious configurations, a setting where passengers are temporarily stranded in a sitting or standing position. I spent many years looking at, could be called staring at fellow passengers, the result, the inevitable conclusion, this photography. Eventually I felt as if I was on a mission — “paparazzo to the people” or something like that.

Random mix of passengers come together often placed as if they were deliberately posed in composition, seconds later the Red Line car comes to a stop, the doors open, the composition evaporates; like shuffling a deck of card, a new set of passengers. I took these photographs on my way to and from work; in the morning getting on at Morris Avenue, a stop in Rogers Park, and getting off at Grand or Jackson, downtown Chicago.

Began June 23, 1997  — Ended July 23, 1998.
3 to 6 seconds to frame and shoot, most often shot one to one.
Camera; Nikon N90 35 mm. Lens: 28-70 mm zoom lens.  Film: T-Max 3200, love the grain


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