Seeing Square | Goose Island on Film

In a beauty contest pitting Chicago’s neighborhoods against each other, Goose Island wouldn’t exactly make the top ten. She might have some great insights to share during the interview competition—about the amazing beer brewed on her shores, or the fact that she’s the only island on the Chicago River—but even an evening gown couldn’t hide her homely features.

Nevertheless, I found myself walking around there the other week, around those streets flagged with banners proudly reading “Chicago’s Industrial Corridor,” in order to find Calumet Photo. It was there that a bespectacled guy named Fred taught me how to use my new Yashica Mat 124, loaded it up with a roll of Tri-X, and sent me out to capture the world on medium format film.

Unable to contain my excitement, I shot my test roll there without the guidance of a light meter. Somehow, the gritty black-and-white film, the striking square frames, and the eerie emptiness of the neighborhood made for some pretty cool shots. I can’t wait to see what else this thing can do!

I’ve been occupied with preparations for my upcoming move, to an adorable city neighborhood that feels light-years away from Chicago’s Industrial Corridor. But for better or for worse, this is a side of the city I love. In a strange way, it’s this kind of place that draws us into cities in the first place: for the excitement, the bigness, and just a touch of the seedy underbelly that gives everything an air of danger.

Goose Island, you’re about to become my new neighbor, and I think we’re going to be marvelous friends. I’d lend you a cup of sugar anytime.