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Walking With Ghosts in the Illinois Medical District

The wind whips and whistles between the buildings of the Illinois Medical District. Generators that power hospitals hum and hiccup against the shadows cast by the old and new structures. There are echoes of the long-forgotten West Side Park. And the hulking, vacant, and elegant Cook County Hospital stands guard against it all. All sounds […]

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St. Rocco

Every August, the Society of St. Rocco di Simbario set forth from their home church of St. Therese Catholic Church, an Italian-Chinese hybrid off of Wentworth Ave in Chinatown. Since 1920, the group founded by Chicago Outfit patriarch Bruno Roti Sr. and his brother-in-law Bruno Bertucci, leads St. Rocco in a day of family, celebration, […]

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Lunching With Mies

As we walk down the crowded corridor of State St. during the lunchtime hour, we hear snippets of passerby’s conversations: “He had a brother that died” “How ya doin’ young lady?” There are street vendors hawking goods, and the sounds of hurried conversations from late workers rushing to get back to the office. Crossing over […]

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Kites and Dogs

A chance trip to the Montrose harbor on the lakefront yields the surprise sounds of both an annual kite flying contest and the very end of Chicago’s Bark in the Park benefit for the Anti-Cruelty Society. Speakers pump out classic rock while the wind whips giant kites through the sky. Dogs bark at giant floating […]

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Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: The Last Days of Michael Reese Hospital

The winter wind whistles through the temporary chain-link fence that surrounds piles of rubble that used to be Michael Reese Hopsital. The hum of cars on Lakeshore Drive and waves on the distant beach set the backdrop for a construction zone only temporarily silenced. The dormant cranes, bulldozers, and remaining buildings of this landmark wait quietly […]

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Shedd Aquarium

The cavernous Oceanarium is the backdrop for the sounds of the Shedd Aquarium. The labyrinth of moss covered rock leads you under water falls and past all types of silent undersea creatures while the screams of children and seabirds mix with the barks of seals and the breathing of beluga whales. All sounds by Tim […]

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Dragon Boat Races

In between the sounds of freight trains crossing the South Branch of the Chicago River, you can hear an air horn signal the start of Chinatown’s Dragon Boat Race for Literacy. The approaching rhythmic beats of each boat’s drummer mix with the sounds of finish line crowds. Each team paddles furiously, pushing towards the finish […]

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Finkl & Sons: The North Center Industrial Corridor

The clank of shredded metal and drone of heavy machinery are the soundbed for the constant clatter of the North Center Industrial Corridor. Tires swing through the air on chains. Fans hum to pump heat out of the slag rooms of the A. Finkl & Sons foundary. Eighteen wheelers deliver material to be recycled into […]

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Mai Fest

The sounds of beer kegs hitting wheeled carts gives way to the sounds of German toasts and oompah bands while the bells of the midway games ring. The buzz and rat-a-tat of well aimed water cannons make horses race across the finish lines, as revelers raise their plastic steins and usher in summer. Everyone in […]

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Calumet Fisheries

Way far down on the Southeast Side of Chicago is a place that needs to be smelled more than heard. The windy sounds of the 95th St Bridge over the Calumet River give way to the sounds of the constantly humming cooling fans in this over-sized shed smokehouse. The sounds of butcher paper being folded […]

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Mother’s Day at the South Shore Beach

South Shore Beach is dotted with seagulls feeding on the bodies of crawdads, and fish that they have pulled from the water. The windy beach is curiously filled with small makeshift shrines along its shore: roses, candles, eggs, bananas, watermelons and oranges dug into holes in the ground. The sounds of Lake Michigan’s surf mixes […]

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Zen and the Art of Dropping In: Logan Blvd Skate Park

At the Logan Sq. Skate Park, the highway hums continuously overhead, while the low vibrations are punctuated by the continuous whizzing of ball bearings, wheels clicking against the sidewalk, and flat soled shoes hitting the pavement. Fail, repeat, fail, succeed. Barely any words are spoken as skaters reverently line up to take another pass at […]

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Garfield Park Conservatory

The sounds of the rain outside give way to the quiet sounds of Chicago’s oasis: The Garfield Park Conservatory. Rain leaks through the glass roof onto giant rainforest leaves, artificial rivers run over rocks, the sounds of insects,birds and frogs magically come from some where within the plants, but none can be seen, children begin […]

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Tracks and Trees

This installment of the series is a short meditation on the sound of trains and trees. Samples of late night freight moving through the city give way to an out of the way dead end street with a small stand of poplars and cottonwood trees. The sounds of the mechanisms of commerce and industry are […]

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The End of Summer

It is just cold enough for a light jacket, and there is a slight and chilly wind. This audio walk takes an abbreviated loop around Horner Park on the north side of Chicago, it intends to be a calm and lazy summer stroll but instead ends with the cacophony of the first days of school […]

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New Church (Old Calendar)

On January 7 in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, church bells ring for hours in celebration of Christmas according to the traditional Ukrainian calendar. On this morning birds have joined the joyful noise and an occasional drop of water from last nights thunderstorm plunks down on a nearby windowpane. The recorded sounds of this event have been […]

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Clouds Beset the Purple Moon

The scene opens with an inexplicable ringing that fades into a playful late night exchange between 2 birds on a quiet street in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village. Sirens wail in the distance as thunder and cars roll past until an unexpected hailstorm interrupts the quiet summer night. All sounds by 1 and the 2 Photo Credit: […]

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Watch Out For the Kettle

This installment of the Sound Series takes a listen at the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. We hear a set of excerpts about leaving home and losing offspring to the sea from the John Millington Synge play “Riders to the Sea.” They are set against the sounds of a crowd and a band […]

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Old Town School of Folk Music

This place is like a living, breathing sound piece. Simply walking by or standing between a few rooms sounds like something it would take the most brilliant avant-garde composers years to dream up. Just walking through the school with ears open allows you to create your own composition: autoharps tune, teachers keep time, guitars strum, […]

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Argyle Street

This Sound Series entry takes on a trip to the Uptown neighborhood for a morning on Argyle Street, Chicago’s Vietnamese enclave. The sounds are taken from various Vietnamese shops and restaurants in the blocks surrounding the Argyle and Broadway intersection. (The occasional sniffle is from too much hot sauce in the noodle soup.) Underneath the […]

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Sound is Well-Reflected

A reflection on space and how we hear the holidays. The listener starts out approaching the Field’s/Macy’s building in full holiday swing then moves into the comparative serenity of the store’s interior. However, the inside silence of the building is only a short welcome break before a return to the chaos on the street. Slowly, the […]

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Dan Ryan Beach

A manipulated study of the sounds of the Dan Ryan. Creating a wall of sound through a set of speakers, the recording gives the impression of standing on the shores of Lake Michigan with waves crashing hard upon the surface. Upon closer inspection though, listening through headphones, sonic subtleties pop out to reveal that you are […]

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Subterranean Blue: Underground El Recordings

Our first entry focuses on the sound recordings of the ‘El’ by Oakland-based artist Jason Warriner. The recordings from the El are taken from Warriner’s Subterranean Blue, a “meditation on public space, architecture and sound documenting the underground transportation system environments of New York, Chicago and San Francisco using field recordings and photographs.” You can […]