At 7 o’clock on WTTW, Chicago Tonight will have an interview with Lawrence Okrent, author of the new book, Chicago From the Sky. Okrent’s new book is a 248-page aerial history of the development of Chicago over the past 25 years. I haven’t seen the book yet, but the teasers that have been published online have been utterly fascinating.
The Tribune published a few sets this afternoon and they’re simply outstanding. From the development of South Grant Park to the demolition of the Robert Taylor Homes, Okrent’s aerial photography over a 25-year-period is an amazing look at the city and how it’s grown.
The Tribune’s Blair Kamin apparently has gotten his hands on a sneak peek of the book and he offers a fair criticism. Since Okrent gathered these photos during his work as a developer, it is skewed heavily towards Chicago’s grander neighbhorhoods. So while there’s a lot of images of downtown and the North Side, other parts of town like the dying South Side neighborhoods are all but ignored. Furthermore, the work is very city-centric and does not touch on the explosion of population in the exurbs, arguably the single greatest revelation that came from the latest census figures.
Still, its hard to be too down on something this comprehensive. Its especially exciting for me, since most of Okrent’s earliest photos come from the mid-80s, this book will chronicle the growth of Chicago during my lifetime. I’m very excited to pick up a copy, which can be ordere here, from Amazon.com, though I’m going to pray the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square has it in stock, as I don’t want to wait a week for shipping.